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Local News

January 9, 2014

Selectmen to discuss uses for $140,900 energy grant

WEST NEWBURY — Thanks to the hard work of the all-volunteer Energy Advisory Committee, West Newbury was recently awarded a $140,900 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

A discussion of the grant, a result of the town’s new designation as a Green Community, has been added to the Board of Selectmen’s agenda for its first meeting of the New Year on Monday. Selectmen meet at 7 p.m. in the First Floor Hearing Room of the 1910 Town Office Building, 381 Main St.

The total grant allotment represents a formula of a $125,000 base grant per newly designated Green Community plus an amount adjusted for a town’s population and income. An additional $10,000 is added for Green Communities, like West Newbury, that have adopted as-of-right siting for renewable energy generation.

In May 2012 Town Meeting voters adopted an overlay district to allow large scale ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installations and then designated approximately 3.82 acres on a field at 694 Main St. as a specific site for the installation. The town is presently seeking requests for qualifications for solar PV development on the site.

Across the state 123 towns and cities have achieved Green Community status, meaning they are ranked as clean energy leaders who are now eligible for municipal renewable power and energy efficiency grants.

In December, selectmen learned that West Newbury was among the 13 municipalities to earn the status that month. The milestone marks several years of work by the EAC to achieve the five criteria required for a town to gain the designation.

According to EAC chairman Rick Parker, the grant funds will be applied toward energy reduction projects identified in a plan his committee developed as part of the criteria to earn Green Community status.

“If West Newbury applies for competitive grants in the future, we can pursue additional energy efficiencies and conservation projects or renewable generation projects,” Parker added.

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