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Grants Awarded For Local Energy Projects

More communities in Massachusetts are getting state  financial help with local energy projects. The funding awarded Monday comes courtesy of  landmark legislation passed four years ago that was designed to increase clean energy momentum.   WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

More than $1.15 million in grants to pay for clean energy projects in seven western Massachusetts towns was announced  by the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan.  The towns were officially designated as “ Green Communities” under a 2008 program that has now grown to include more than 100 cities and towns.

The latest green community designees are Amherst, Conway, Gill, Huntington, Northfield, Pelham and Sunderland. Local officials were congratulated by state officials during a ceremony Monday at Amherst  Town Hall.

In order to earn the “Green Community” reward, the municipalities must meet five energy benchmarks.

The state has now awarded a total of more than $23 million dollars in grants through the  Green Communities program to 103 communities.The grants have payed  for everything from putting solar panels on municipal buildings to weatherizing schools.

Sullivan said it all helps the state achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The state’s largest cities, Boston, Worcester, and Springfield are all in the Green Communities program. So are Northampton and Pittsfield.  But officials said it was heartening to see so many small towns become eligible

Lisa Michaud, member of the board of selectmen in Pelham , said it was not easy for the town of less than 14 hundred people to meet the energy conservation requirements.

Michaud said the town plans to use its $138,100 grant to make repairs to a municipal building that will result in energy savings.

Amherst is receiving $302,000 and town manager John Musante said the plan is to install high efficiency street lights.

Funds to pay for the Green Communities grants come through auctions of carbon credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and payments made by electricity suppliers.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.