June 1st marked the anniversary of the destructive tornadoes that touched down in Western Massachusetts just three years ago. Monson was one of several towns that experienced severe damage as the tornadoes blew through that part of the state, tearing apart the landscape, ruining buildings, and leaving hundreds of families without a home. In 2011, Monson worked hard to help raise money to rebuild the town. For instance, the town hosted a road race called “The Run to Rebuild Monson,” and applied for relief funds. Despite Monson’s strong efforts, however, the town was not able to reach all of its reconstruction goals on its own.
The ReBuild Western Massachusetts Program, a partnership between the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), worked to help reconstruct Monson and other affected communities using energy efficient technologies. The program provided grants and zero interest loans to these areas totaling just below $1 million. In fact, the ReBuild program was able to help 236 homes, apartments and commercial spaces in nine different communities over 15 months.
When federal funding for this program, provided by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), stopped in 2012, DOER put aside funds from state Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) – money that retail electric suppliers must pay if they fail to meet required investments in renewable power – for the future rebuilding of Monson’s town hall–police station. These funds were reserved for later use, contingent upon the building’s final design exceeding Massachusetts’ stretch building energy code requirements. Although rebuilding Monson has been a slow process, it is continuing this year, thanks to this DOER assistance.
We are excited to congratulate the town of Monson on receiving a $200,000 grant that will be put toward completely rebuilding the Monson town hall–police station that had been destroyed by the June 2011 tornadoes. The grant will help offset the costs that the project will incur in order to create more energy efficient facilities. The grant will be used to meet the Stretch Energy Code, and go beyond it with high performance insulation and windows. The Stretch Energy Code, adopted by 140 Massachusetts cities and towns, including Monson, requires more energy efficient alternatives than standard provisions of the building code.
According to DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia, this new public building “will be a symbol of communities and the Commonwealth working together in the face of disaster to restore services and rebuild with greater energy efficiency. The lessons learned from the tornadoes in 2011 will help many others as we roll out our climate preparedness initiative for cities and towns.” Last month, DOER launched a $40 million energy resiliency grant program that will support clean energy technologies to protect communities across the state from losing energy services due to natural disasters fueled by climate change.
The DOER team is honored to help the town of Monson as it continues to recover from natural disaster. We are happy to see this community grow stronger and we commend its resiliency.
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