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Standing in front of a Newton Housing Authority complex that has been upgraded with clean energy technologies and as part of the Commonwealth’s Earth Week celebration, Governor Baker and state energy, environmental, and housing officials, announced a suite of six new programs aimed at making it easier for low and moderate-income Massachusetts residents to access energy efficient technologies.

“Our mission at DOER is to create a clean, affordable, resilient energy future for the Commonwealth,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Judith Judson in announcing the programs. “In order to achieve that future, everyone in Massachusetts should have access to the economic and environmental benefits that energy efficiency and renewable energy can provide.”

Governor Baker said that it was troubling that a vast majority of opportunities available to reap the economic and environmental benefits of clean and renewable benefits, especially LEED- and solar-oriented, were hard to access. These new programs, along with the administration’s investments in energy storage, hydroelectric power, and offshore wind, “will allow for more low-income families and more residents in general to access more affordable clean energy.”

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton explained that the goal of the working groups were to break down two separate barriers: those that prevent all residents of the Commonwealth to access to our clean energy programs, and the barriers that exist inside state bureaucracy. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Baker and hard work across state government agencies, the Baker-Polito Administration was “able to break down both of these barriers.”

The programs build upon the efforts of the Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Final Working Group Report, and are the final component of the Baker-Polito Administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy (AACEE) Initiative. In February 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the initiative to make it easier for low and moderate-income Massachusetts residents install clean energy technology, such as solar panels, which often carry up-front costs but can save money in the long term. (More from MassLive.com)

In order to build upon the intergovernmental cooperation that is the cornerstone of the AACEE, DOER will continue to work with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to identify and support renewable energy improvements in state-sponsored public housing that provide significant energy savings for the Commonwealth’s housing authorities.

Read more about the six programs in the press release announcing them.

Administration to assist communities prepare for climate change and build resistance

With the backdrop of the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Secretary Beaton announced the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program, building on Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569. The program will provide funding to cities and towns to complete a community-driven process to identify hazards and develop strategies to improve resilience.

“This program will help communities understand their vulnerabilities and risks, but also the strengths they already have that make them resilient,” said Secretary Beaton. “We look forward to working with our local partners to build on these strengths and create a more resilient Commonwealth.”

Through the MVP Program, municipalities will be better equipped to plan and prepare for climate change, and state government will gain a better understanding of the challenges communities face. Additionally, the program will help ensure coordinated statewide efforts and align programs with the critical challenges facing communities.

State honors SouthCoast towns for green fleets

The state honored Dartmouth, Marion, Middleboro, New Bedford, Rochester and Westport for their adoption and use of electric vehicles as part of their municipal fleets and the installation of charging stations.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg were joined by State Representatives Keiko Orrall, R-Lakeville, Carole Fiola, D-Fall River, and Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk, to honor the local officials during an Earth Fest at MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality for all of our citizens,” Beaton said. “The transportation sector is now responsible for 41 percent of emissions across the Commonwealth. So powering vehicles with electricity, rather than petroleum, is a key piece of our efforts to reduce these impacts.

More from The Standard-Times.

Administration awards $900,000 in grants to protect state drinking water

As a means of protecting existing surface drinking water systems, the Baker-Polito Administration announced nearly $900,000 in grant money to five different Massachusetts public water suppliers. The grants will be administered by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Division of Conservation Services and through the Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program (DWSP).

“State government and our local water suppliers working together to ensure safe drinking water is readily available across Commonwealth is incredibly important,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These 2017 Drinking Water Supply Protection Grants will deliver the necessary financial resources to allow water suppliers to continue to distribute high quality water to the public.”

More from MassLive.com, The Recorder, and WickedLocal Marion.

In Salem, administration announces $2.6 million available for coastal projects that promote resilience or improve water quality

Joined by Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and the local legislators, Secretary Beaton on Tuesday announced $2.6 million in funding available through two grant programs for coastal projects that promote climate resilience or improve coast water quality. Under the program, Requests for Responses (RFR) will be solicited from municipalities and eligible non-profit partners for grants awarded through the Coastal Resiliency Grant Program and Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said that her city has benefited immensely from the two grant programs , which have address shore erosion and water quality leading to a healthier Salem Harbor and Sound, and that her city wouldn’t be able to undertake these programs without the state assistance.

“We are thankful to have such a strong state partner helping us remediate water pollution and achieve our sustainability goals,” said Mayor Driscoll.

North Adams, Clarksburg Among Newest Green Communities

North Adams has received a Green Communities Grant of $194,580 that will help it save that and more in energy costs every year.

“All told, the five-year plan will cut energy consumption by an estimated 6,800 MBTUs, which is equivalent to taking 110 cars off the road and an estimated energy savings of $225,000 per year,” said Commissioner Judith Judson of the Department of Energy Resources in the presentation at City Hall on Wednesday.

The city was one of five communities (Press Release) presented with certificates, big checks and signage proclaiming them the newest members of the state’s Green Communities program by Judson and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.

The 7-year-old program now has 185 communities covering 64 percent of the population. Judson said this latest round is the largest with some 30 municipalities successfully meeting the criteria for Green Communities since the program began. The five communities represented at City Hall — Clarksburg, Erving, Hawley, Plainfield and North Adams — received a total of $753,570 to implement plans for greater energy efficiency and sustainability. More than $65 million in grant funding has been disbursed since through designation and competitive grant rounds since 2010.

More from iBerkshires.com.

CZM Director Carlisle: Coastal connections in a changing climate

Bruce Carlisle, the director of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, penned a column in the Salem News.

For people who live, work on, or visit the beautiful shores of the Massachusetts coast, climate change poses significant threats. Our beaches and dunes, homes and infrastructure, and public safety and coastal economies are at risk from increased flooding, erosion, and storm damage. In recognition of these immediate challenges, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569, which establishes an integrated climate change strategy. Earth Day is the perfect time to highlight how the Baker-Polito Administration is working in partnership with coastal communities to combat climate change — and the City of Salem is an excellent example of an active partner in this effort.

As director of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), I am proud of the important role our office plays improving the Commonwealth’s resilience to a changing climate. Our program got its start in 1972, and is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Here at CZM, helping coastal communities address climate change is a major priority, and our StormSmart Coasts program focuses on providing information, strategies, tools, and financial support to manage these impacts at the local level.

One example is the Coastal Resilience Grant Program. Through these competitive grants, the Baker-Polito Administration provides resources and technical assistance to advance innovative local efforts to address coastal flooding, erosion, and sea level rise caused by climate change. Under this program, more than 70 projects have been undertaken by 37 municipalities to increase awareness of potential hazards, plan for changing conditions, redesign vulnerable infrastructure, and implement nature-based solutions.

The City of Salem is one of many coastal communities using these grants to actively improve resilience. In its first project, Salem assessed the vulnerability of public shoreline sites and then evaluated feasibility of using non-structural or green infrastructure solutions. The most vulnerable sites were selected for detailed analysis, and based on this work, Salem is now designing a green infrastructure project at Collins Cove and will create salt marsh as a natural barrier to storm wave impacts. This Earth Week, the call for the next round of Coastal Resilience grants will be announced and will be complemented by an innovative Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program providing new resources and support for local efforts to assess risk and adapt to changing conditions.

Continue reading Director Carlisle’s column in the Salem News.

Union of Concerned Scientists ranks Massachusetts 3rd in clean energy progress

Massachusetts leads the nation in strong energy efficiency standards and is among the top three states for overall progress on so-called clean energy, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis released Thursday.

The new “Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress” report, which looked at 12 metrics, assessed trends in states’ deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification of vehicles. It also looked at job creation, pollution reduction and policies targeting future momentum on clean energy.

The UCS analysis ranked Massachusetts first for the strength of its energy efficiency standards. The state came in second for electricity savings achieved through state programs and the number of clean energy jobs created, particularly in regards to energy efficiency and solar power, according to the report.

More from MassLive.com.

COMMISSIONER SUUBERG: A creative clean-energy solution

Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, penned a column in Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette.

The challenge of climate change requires thinking outside the box to come up with solutions that work for our communities. This Earth Day, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is celebrating innovative thinking and partnerships – like that on display in the city of Worcester – that have enabled our Commonwealth to make important progress in combating climate change and leading the nation in clean energy innovation.

In 1986, Worcester closed and capped the 52-acre Greenwood Street landfill. Since that time, the city has worked to maintain the site but also thought creatively about putting it back into productive reuse. In early 2015, the city approached MassDEP with a unique proposal to install solar panels on top of the landfill.

As a result of the city’s vision for this former solid waste disposal facility, and with assistance from MassDEP and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Greenwood Street landfill is about to become one of the state’s largest renewable energy producers. The power generation set to come online will offset approximately $2 million in annual electricity costs for Worcester.

Continue reading Commissioner Suuberg’s guest commentary in the Telegram.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Communities, Nonprofits to Participate in State Solar Programs

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources announced on Tuesday that Newburyport was selected along with Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Winthrop to participate in Solarize Mass, a community-based solar group purchasing program that can deliver savings of up to 21 percent on solar costs compared to the statewide average for residents and businesses

This will be the second time Newburyport residents will have the opportunity to benefit from the program since 2012, when 46 solar panel systems were added throughout the city, generating 423 kilowatts of solar power.

The announcement for this year’s program was made outside City Hall, across the street from Portside Family Dental, which installed solar panels on its roof through the program in 2012.

More from the Newburyport Daily News.

COMMISSIONER ROY: Forging an intersection of conservation and recreation

Leo Roy, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, penned a column in the Milford Daily News.

Massachusetts has long valued its open, green spaces where people have played and explored the wonders of the natural world right in their own backyard. Nothing underscores this shared value more than the fact that the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) happens to be the largest landowner in the state.

Contained within the agency’s 450,000 acres are diverse and breathtaking natural and historic landscapes, and one important element of the state parks system is its vast network of 3,500 multi-use trails, greenways, and forest roads that provide enjoyment and exercise all year round. DCR’s trails support a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation including running, walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

The state’s extensive trail system links communities and makes connections among people, expanding opportunities and increasing the public’s enjoyment of these thoughtfully designed and dutifully maintained trails. Perhaps the most well-known multi-state path is the Appalachian Trail (AT) that runs from Georgia to Maine. Conceived in 1921 by Massachusetts native Benton McKaye, the AT was designed to provide a continuous green corridor along the ridge of the Appalachian chain of mountains. Most of the 90 miles of the AT in Massachusetts is on DCR property. Long distance trails challenge hikers in many ways, and encourage both self-reliance, and camaraderie among those along their journey.

Another great example of DCR’s trail network is the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT), approximately 22 miles in length, and one of the longest rail-trails in Massachusetts. Railroad tracks that have fallen into disuse can be adapted into long distance trails like this one. SNETT passes through the towns of Blackstone, Bellingham, Douglas, Franklin, Millville, and Uxbridge. A recently completed section of the rail-trail is the Blackstone River Greenway Project, a 3.5 mile greenway that features a 10-foot wide multi-use paved pathway, seven bridges, and a tunnel from the Blackstone Depot to Rte. 146A in Uxbridge.

Continue reading Commissioner Roy’s guest commentary in the Milford Daily News.

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