Massachusetts Offers Grant to 35 Green Communities

The state has awarded 35 municipalities across Massachusetts asleaders in clean energy, or “green communities.”  A city or town thatreceives this status is able to receive grants that can subsidizerenewable energy, like wind and solar, and efficiency programs.  A total of $8.1 million in grants will be given out with  the intention ofprogressing clean energy goals and creating  green jobs.   The fundswill be released on June 30th and then a second round of funds will beavailable after July 1st.

Green Communities Act of 2008 abides over the grant program, but theprogram is admnistered by the Department of Energy Resources.  Fundingfor the grants comes from the carbon emission permit auctions. 

The Green Communities status is awarded to cities and towns inMassachusetts that meet five key goals including:

  • Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows“as-of-right-siting” of renewable energy projects;
  • Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-rightfacilities;
  • Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program designedto reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
  • Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, wheneversuch vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
  • Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feetand all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building“stretch code”).

“I am pleased to honor the vision and hard work of our first group of official Green Communities,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Thesepioneers are notable not only for their commitment to a cleaner, greener Massachusetts, but also for their diversity. From tiny towns to majorcities and suburbs in all regions of the state, Massachusettscommunities recognize the benefits, for the economy as well as theenvironment, of making clean energy choices.”

When the program was first created, it was thought that only a dozencommunities would receive this designation.  It is an amazing feat that35 towns and cities were able to gain this status in the first round offunding.  It shows that the municipalities are serious about encouraging renewable and energy efficient technologies and I applaud each of their efforts.

The 35 communities included in this round of awards are: Acton, Arlington, Athol, Andover, Becket, Belchertown, Cambridge, Chelmsford,Easthampton, Greenfield, Hamilton, Hanover, Holyoke, Hopkinton,Kingston, Lancaster, Lenox, Lexington, Lincoln, Lowell, Mashpee,Medford, Melrose, Montague, Natick, Newton, Northampton, Palmer,Pittsfield, Salem, Springfield, Sudbury, Tyngsboro, and Wenham.