AMESBURY – Amesbury is on the verge of finalizing two energy savings plans that officials say will help the city save money and fulfill the state’s final two requirements to become recognized as a Green Community.
Over the next few weeks, Amesbury will partner with an energy consultant to develop a new five-year energy reduction plan, and Mayor Thatcher Kezer will conclude work on a fuel-efficient vehicle procurement policy. Neither of these plans requires City Council approval, and Kezer said he expects both should be finalized in time for the city to submit its Green Community application to the state by the end of October.
Should Amesbury earn Green Community designation from the state, the city would become eligible for up to $10 million in grants that could be used for green-energy projects within the community.
The city would also receive a designation grant as a reward for earning Green Community status. In the past, communities of Amesbury’s size have received roughly $150,000 from the state, but occasionally more.
In order to become recognized as a Green Community, Amesbury must meet the state’s five criteria: providing zoning for renewable energy generating, R&D or manufacturing facilities; adopt an expedited application and permit process for those facilities; develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years; purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles and adopt the state’s Stretch Code.
The city has already created a solar overlay district to meet the first criteria, adopted an expedited application and permit process to meet the second, and in January, the City Council voted 7 to 2 in favor of adopting the Stretch Code, which is an amendment to the state’s building code that emphasizes energy efficiency and has tighter building requirements for both new residential and commercial projects.