SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WWLP) – In a move that underscored the commitment of local municipalities to environmental sustainability and clean energy, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has officially designated East Longmeadow, Hadley, and Southwick as Green Communities.

This strategic initiative aims to foster energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, making these towns eligible for grants totaling more than $445,000.

With this recent announcement, a total of 291 municipalities across the Commonwealth now hold the coveted ‘Green Communities’ designation. Since its inception, the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Green Communities program has disbursed over $166 million in grant funding to towns and cities throughout the region, thus amplifying clean energy efforts and driving environmental stewardship.

The Green Communities program has emerged as a pivotal partnership between local governments and the state to tackle the pressing challenges of carbon emissions, energy costs, and sustainability. “We commend East Longmeadow, Hadley, and Southwick for their commitment to implement clean energy projects and reduce building and transportation emissions,” stated Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper.

DOER Commissioner Elizabeth Mahony highlighted the importance of localized efforts in realizing broader clean energy transitions. “An important part of our clean energy transition will happen at the local level, and we are excited to welcome East Longmeadow, Hadley, and Southwick as designated Green Communities,” Mahony noted. The dedication of these communities to energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction will not only create healthier living spaces but also align Massachusetts with its ambitious climate goals.

Each of the 291 designated Green Communities pledge to decrease municipal energy consumption by a substantial 20 percent. For East Longmeadow, Hadley, and Southwick, this commitment translates into a projected savings of 23,188 MMBTUs over the next five years– the equivalent to the energy needed to heat and power 179 homes. Additionally, this reduction effort will result in a greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction of 1,635 tons, akin to removing 344 cars from local roads.

The three towns have laid out comprehensive plans for clean energy projects that encompass various sectors. These projects include upgrades in schools and municipal buildings to enhance weatherization, the incorporation of electric vehicles into town and school fleets, and the deployment of renewable thermal technologies such as air-source heat pumps.

The DOER will facilitate the allocation of funding for these projects in the newly designated Green Communities as follows:

  • East Longmeadow: $160,170
  • Hadley: $139,250
  • Southwick: $146,220

Under the Green Communities Act, the DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can allocate up to $20 million each year to qualified municipalities. The goal of this program is to empower communities to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, aligning with their individual clean energy goals. The initial designation grants are structured around a $125,000 base for each Green Community, further adjusted based on factors like per capita income and population.

“The urgency of the climate crisis demands that the state supports cities and towns in developing climate resiliency, transitioning to clean energy, reducing energy usage, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions,” asserted State Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). Comerford expressed her enthusiasm for Hadley’s decision to become a Green Community and thanked the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the Department of Energy Resources for spearheading the Green Communities program and awarding Hadley an initial grant of $139,250.

State Senator Jacob R. Oliveira (D-Ludlow) underscored the significance of collective commitment in achieving climate objectives. “Reaching our climate goals here in Massachusetts means working together towards a shared vision and maintaining a strong commitment to change. Becoming a Green Community reflects that shared commitment,” said Oliveira.

Local representatives also praised the Green Communities initiative for its alignment with town-level strategies for sustainability. State Representative Brian M. Ashe (D-Longmeadow) expressed his enthusiasm, stating that the grants provided through this designation will enable East Longmeadow to fulfill important aspects of its Resilient Master Plan related to energy efficiency, climate change resiliency, and other green initiatives.

State Representative Daniel R. Carey (D-Easthampton) congratulated Hadley on its Green Communities Designation, emphasizing its dedication to a cleaner and more sustainable future. “The hard work it takes to become a Green Community is already paying off with $139,250 in state funds coming to Hadley to pursue energy efficiency goals,” Carey acknowledged.

Funding for these grants is drawn from the proceeds of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), emphasizing the collaborative approach to addressing climate challenges. As Massachusetts continues to advance its clean energy agenda, the commitment of local communities like East Longmeadow, Hadley, and Southwick marks a pivotal step towards a greener future for the Commonwealth.

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