BOSTON — Newburyport has been chosen to participate in a $500,000 pilot program to help local communities identify energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean energy strategies to meet local energy needs.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Green Communities Division made the announcement.
The Community Energy Strategies Pilot Program — which will serve 16 communities — will provide technical and financial assistance to these municipalities and regional planning authorities to help identify, prioritize and enable a mix of clean energy strategies and incentives best suited to address local interests, needs, resources and opportunities for clean energy development.
“The Patrick-Murray Administration continues its commitment to assisting municipalities in pursuing clean energy development,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan in a press release. “These grants will provide the technical and financial capacity to identify and take full advantage of local clean energy opportunities.”
Others participating in the pilot program are: Northampton; Watertown; Franklin Regional Council of Governments (Greenfield, Montague, Buckland and Shelburne); Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Hamilton, Wenham, Salem and Swampscott); and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (Amherst, Hadley, Holyoke, Easthampton, East Longmeadow).
The program is designed to help communities assess and evaluate clean energy investments ranging from high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and insulation to wind turbines and solar electricity systems.
Participating communities and regional planning authorities will receive assistance from industry experts in assessing the area’s clean energy resources, infrastructure and community needs. The goal of the program is to provide communities with a menu of clean energy options depending on their needs and resources.
“We look forward to working with these communities as they work to expand their clean energy portfolio and reduce their environmental impacts,” said commissioner Mark Sylvia.
“Each community is unique. Renewable energy projects that work for one community may not work for another, and this program will help these communities find the best projects to fit their cities and towns,” said MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton.
Massachusetts lies at the end of the energy pipeline — lacking indigenous supplies of traditional energy resources. As a result, Massachusetts has some of the highest energy costs in the nation. Of the $22 billion Massachusetts spends annually on energy, $18 billion of that goes to out-of-state and foreign sources.
The state’s growing renewable energy portfolio and emphasis on energy efficiency — the state’s first fuel — keeps more of that spending in the Massachusetts economy, while creating local jobs. As a result of Massachusetts’ progressive clean energy policies, clean energy jobs in Massachusetts have grown by 11.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the 2012 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report.