The Governor’s office announced a new round of Green Communities and associated grants. Thanks to efforts of several volunteers and Town employees, Southborough was among the 30 new cities/towns.
The Town is listed in the announcement as receiving a $142,865 municipal grants. However, details on the state website seems to indicate that as the maximum amount the Town is eligible for.
Each of the new communties grant project status is listed as “Applicant period for grant projects is currently open; projects to be determined.” To get the funds, the Town will be expected to apply for grants “that finance additional energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at the local level”.
Those don’t have to be big projects, like installing solar panels. Looking at 2016 competitive grants other Towns received, they included basic energy saving projects for municipal buildings and schools like weatherizing buildings, upgrading boilers and HVAC systems, replacing lights with LEDs, programmable thermostats, etc. And I’m willing to bet the Facilities Department already has a list of applicable projects it hopes the funds can be used towards. (Like the continually postponed Town House window replacements project.)
The effort to become a “Green Community” was headed by the Green Technology Committee at the request of selectmen. It also included help from the Planning Board and former Town Planner (and I’m guessing other Town employees behind the scenes.)
Some of the final criteria in the process was approved by voters last spring. Voters were asked to adopt “Energy Stretch Codes” and redefine the Solar Bylaw to include an overlay district map. The articles passed, allowing the Town to complete their application.
Below is an excerpt from the state’s announcement.
64% of Massachusetts Residents Live In Green Community
BOSTON – February 2, 2017 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that an additional 30 Massachusetts cities and towns have been designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, committing to an ambitious renewable energy agenda to reduce energy consumption and emissions. With today’s designation, over half of the Commonwealth’s municipalities have earned their Green Communities designation and 64 percent of residents live in a Green Community. The 30 new Green Communities are now eligible for grants totaling $6,460,385 to complete renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in their communities. Since the program began in 2010, DOER’s Green Communities division has awarded over $65 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and town through designation and competitive grant rounds.
“The Green Communities program is an excellent example of how state and local governments can work together to save taxpayer money and promote responsible energy policies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The thirty new Green Communities named today will now have additional resources to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, locking in energy savings for residents and reducing their carbon footprints.”
“Our municipal partners continue to help lead the way on renewable energy by adopting practices that reduce their energy consumption, while channeling savings toward vital municipal functions, like public safety and education,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We will continue to provide cities and towns across the Commonwealth the tools they need to reduce energy costs, usage and emissions.”
The Commonwealth’s 185 Green Communities range from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and are home to 64 percent of Massachusetts’ population in municipalities as large as Boston and as small as Rowe. Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding, including reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. The newly designated Green Communities have committed to reducing their energy consumption amounting to savings of $6,241,862 of energy costs and 2,234,090 MMBtu in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering nearly 2,718 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 27,641 metric tons, equivalent to taking 5,819 cars off the roads. (Click here to read the full press release)