BOSTON – December 18, 2013 - The Patrick Administration today designated 13 new Green Communities, bringing to 123 the number of Massachusetts cities and towns committed to five clean energy leadership criteria spelled out in the Green Communities Act, including cutting energy use by 20 percent over five years.
With the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) designation, the communities will be eligible for more than $2 million in grants for local renewable power and energy efficiency projects. Nearly half of Massachusetts residents (48 percent) now live in a Green Community.
“I congratulate these communities on joining the more than 100 Green Communities across the Commonwealth as they make smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Community by community, we are protecting our environment, reducing municipal costs and making Massachusetts a clean energy leader.”
“The Green Communities designation program has been a tremendous success, I applaud these municipalities for joining us in the commitment to cut energy use and save local revenues,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “By investing and supporting these communities, we ensure municipalities will see energy savings and their quality of life will improve over time.”
DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program, which is a result of the Green Communities Act signed by Governor Patrick in 2008, rewards communities for meeting five clean energy benchmarks:
- Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows “as-of-right siting” – allowing a project to proceed without requiring a special permit or any time of discretionary approval – for renewable and/or alternative energy research and development facilities, manufacturing facilities or generation units;
- Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
- Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program to reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
- Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
- Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e. adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”).
To date, the 123 Green Communities have committed to total energy reductions equivalent to the annual energy consumption of over 15,000 homes and, in greenhouse gas reduction terms, the equivalent of taking nearly 34,000 cars off the road.
“We have seen cities and towns lead the way in the clean energy revolution here in Massachusetts,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “These commitments - to cut energy use, encourage renewable energy generation and reduce greenhouse gas emission - continue to make the Commonwealth a national leader in clean energy.”
Grants for the communities designated today will be funded by Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) made by electricity suppliers that don’t meet their statutory Renewable Portfolio Standard obligation to purchase a sufficient percentage of renewable energy. Green Communities grants also receive funding from proceeds of carbon allowance auctions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Using a formula that caps awards at $1 million and provides each community with a $125,000 base grant – plus additional amounts based on other criteria, DOER notified the qualified communities of their eligibility for the following funding:
West Newbury $140,900
In addition to grant eligibility, each Green Community designated today will receive a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying it as an official Green Community.
The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has named Massachusetts number one for three years running. This year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal after reaching the previous goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The Commonwealth now aims to install 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year and 24 percent growth in the last two years; nearly 80,000 people are employed in the clean tech industry in Massachusetts.