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Community Programs Focus on Energy Conservation in Western Mass.

Residents of several Western Massachusetts communities will be able to participate in two separate initiatives designed to encourage energy efficiency.

Open discussions will be held in Lenox and North Adams this week for the public to offer ideas and gain more understanding of the area’s energy goals and of where the future of clean energy is headed.

That’s the goal of a collaborative effort between two organizations, the non-profit Western Massachusetts-based Center for Eco Technology, and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Amy Kacala, a senior planner at the BRPC, said that meetings will help start conversations among Berkshire residents on how communities will reach statewide energy conservation goals.

The data will help the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission develop a county-wide master plan which has also included forums on historical preservation, economic development, housing and neighborhoods, as well as agriculture.

Annie Stilts of the Center for Eco Technology says in addition to suggesting or discussing projects and the municipal level, the forums will also help involved residents inform themselves of how they can take action to help meet energy conservation goals in their own homes.

The Berkshires play a significant role in the clean energy future of the Commonwealth in the vision of Governor Deval Patrick and his administration. However, large scale clean energy projects including wind farms and solar arrays remain controversial among local communities.

Amy Kacala said that the forums could help Berkshire residents become more proactive and less reactive to energy projects.

A recent award to municipalities and a planning agencies in Western Massachusetts as part of the quasi-public Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the state Department of Energy Resources’ Community Energy Strategies Pilot Program will also help the public determine what kind of clean energy projects are best for their communities.

Part of the $500,000 award will head to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the towns of East Longmeadow, Easthampton, Hadley, Holyoke, and Amherst. The Franklin Regional Council of Governments will also participate along with Greenfield, Shelburne, Montague, and Buckland.

Alicia Barton, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, said that the awards will help towns make their own decisions on pursuing clean energy.

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's "Energy and Climate: An Interactive Community Workshop" will be head:

Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm at Lenox Town Hall, 6 Walker St., Lenox

Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm at the MCLA Center Social Hall, 375 Church St., North Adams

More information:

Center for EcoTechnology:


Massachusetts Clean Energy Center:



Note: Edit made to clarify programs in North Adams and Lenox are open to all.

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.
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