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Berkshire Towns Latest in Massachusetts' Green Communities Program

Great Barrington and Richmond are two of the latest cities and towns in Massachusetts to be designated Green Communities by Governor Deval Patrick’s administration. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard attended the designation event and filed a report…

The Green Communities program recognizes cities and towns that promote renewable energy and have cut their energy use by 20% over five years. In this latest round of designations, 17 new cities and towns are eligible for 2.75 million in competitive state grants to fund local green energy projects.

At a designation ceremony this morning, Great Barrington and Richmond were recognized as two of the latest communities to join the program. State officials including Department of Energy Resources  Commissioner Mark Sylvia and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan presented designation grants and signage; Great Barrington recieved $142,700, and Richmond was awarded $137,300.

Secretary Sullivan highlighted the high cost of energy in Massachusetts to support the argument for investing in renewable sources and energy conservation. 

Sullivan said that since the Green Communities Act was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008, the program has helped produce thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth.

DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia said that all communities joining the program this year are entering a new partnership between local and state governments.

Richmond Administrator Matt Kerwood mentioned that at first, he was opposed to Richmond’s inclusion to Green Communities program, but later became supportive along with members of his community. Kerwood said that it took two annual town meetings to help Richmond qualify for the program.

Kerwood also said that the selectboard will meet to discuss where the designation grant money could be used, but said that he was eying improvements to the town’s highway department garage, which could include new windows, insulation, and siding.

This was the fifth round of designation grants in the Green Communities Program. 103 green communities have been designated since the program began, with a five year total energy reduction equivalent to the annual energy consumption of over 13,000 homes, and the elimination greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to over 22,500 cars.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.