Getting cities and towns to shift toward clean energy was such a cornerstone of Massachusetts’ 2008 energy legislation that the law is named The Green Communities Act.
Those that meet five clean energy goals are eligible for millions in local aid, under the law. But state officials didn't expect many communities to make it right away because the rules were tough.
Yet today, Governor Deval Patrick designated 35 cities and towns as the Commonwealth’s first official “Green Communities” making them eligible for $8.1 million in grants for local renewable power and energy efficiency projects.
“These pioneers are notable not only for their commitment to a cleaner, greener Massachusetts, but also for their diversity," Patrick said in a statement.
Towns and cities had to adopt local zoning bylaws to encourage and speed up permitting for renewable energy projects. They had to agree to purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for their municipal fleet wherever possible. And the communities had to require all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet, as well as all new commercial and industrial real estate construction, to save energy by adopting new building codes.
The communities 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, Wenham, and Worcester.
The communities' deadline for a piece of the $8 million will be on June 4; the grants will be awarded in late June.
The grants will help the communities “go further -- saving energy costs for their residents, reducing the environmental impact of municipal operations, and validating the Commonwealth’s reputation as a national clean energy leader,” said Ian Bowles, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary.
Each community will also receive a Big Belly solar waste compactor to be delivered in time for the summer parks and beaches season.
Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog Posted by Beth Daley