This week, Acushnet joins 122 other Massachusetts cities and towns – from Cape Cod to the Berkshires – that are taking steps to reduce energy costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Patrick Administration’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program. By banding together to ensure a more secure energy future for generations to come, Acushnet is now the second South Coast community to earn this distinction.
Growing up here in the South Coast, I learned firsthand the strength of an active local community. I witnessed the good that can happen when neighbors gather together to take a stake in their community and work to leave it a stronger place. My grandmother, the matriarch of our family and a lifelong resident of Acushnet, taught me the importance of generational responsibility at a young age. All of that is what drove me to public service and what makes me so proud of this community today.
As Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), I applaud Acushnet’s officials, town meeting and citizen volunteers who have come together to enact policies that will save their community money, protect the environment and generate economic opportunity now and for the future.
Becoming a Green Community is not easy. It requires a partnership between municipal and school officials, citizens and volunteers to enact five criteria, including an energy reduction plan and a higher energy efficiency building code. It’s hard work and it’s producing results.
Nearly six years after Governor Patrick signed the Green Communities Act, almost half of the Commonwealth’s residents now live in a designated Green Community. These 123 cities and towns have earned $30 million in grant funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at municipal and school buildings, committing to a total energy reduction equivalent to the annual energy consumption of approximately 15,000 homes. In greenhouse gas reduction terms, the equivalent to taking approximately 34,000 cars off the road.
And it has been our cities and towns who have driven our success in Massachusetts. We are #1 in energy efficiency nationwide three years in a row, we have grown our solar energy capacity by more than 150 times since Governor Patrick took office and the cleantech industry employees 80,000 people. We are leading the charge and states like New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado and Wisconsin are using our Green Communities programs as the model for their efforts.
More than sixty years ago my grandparents chose to start their family in Acushnet. Today, at ninety-six, my grandmother still calls Acushnet her home, still understands the importance of generational responsibility and knows what it means for her many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is proud to live in a Green Community helping to secure a cleaner, more sustainable future for the generations to come.
(editor’s note: the author’s grandmother was present at the grant presentation event on February 19)
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