The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has appointed two regional coordinators who will help local officials in western and northeastern Massachusetts cut energy bills through local policies and targeted investments that encourage greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.
Commissioner Phil Giudice named Joanne Bissetta Northeast regional coordinator for DOER's Green Communities division and James Barry as Western regional coordinator.
DOER expects to name two additional regional coordinators to serve southeastern and central Massachusetts communities by the end of the month. The regional coordinators will work with DOER's Green Communities division and other DOER staff to implement grant programs and provide technical assistance and guidance on energy-saving programs.
Regional coordinators will also assist cities and towns in meeting benchmarks for designation as a Green Community, which enables them to qualify for up to $10 million in Green Communities grants.
To qualify for these grants, which are expected to be announced later this year and are funded with proceeds from the auction of carbon allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, communities must do the following:
– adopt a local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows as-of-right siting of renewable energy projects;
– adopt an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
– establish a municipal energy use baseline and establish a program designed to reduce baseline use by 20%;
– purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
– require all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce life-cycle energy costs.
Coordinators may also host local forums to educate communities about energy issues and help local officials pursue renewable energy and energy efficiency goals through resources such as utility-run efficiency programs, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, grants and other financing options.