NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 23, 2012

Mayor to seek $19,000 for solar energy projects

AMESBURY — Following the city’s recent push toward a more expansive renewable energy program, Mayor Thatcher Kezer will ask the City Council to appropriate roughly $19,000 toward solar energy initiatives in the coming weeks.

The appropriation request will come in response to a letter from members of the City Council, who are pushing for the development of solar energy projects in Amesbury. The $19,000 appropriated would come from the city’s free cash account, Kezer said.

In recent months, Amesbury has been pursuing new renewable energy projects as a means of lowering energy costs, bringing in state and federal funds and easing the burden on the taxpayers.

In April, the city created a new solar overlay district to encourage solar development, and last week the council began discussing the “Stretch Energy Building Code,” which would tighten building requirements to make them more energy-efficient. Both are prerequisites toward earning Green Community designation from the state, which would make the city eligible for up to $10 million in grant funds.

At that same meeting, the City Council also adopted a two-page letter to Kezer asking that he submit an appropriation request to the council in order to fund “needed technical assistance to assist the City of Amesbury in developing cost-effective, solar energy projects.”

The letter, written by councilors Bob Lavoie, Christian Scorzoni and President Anne Ferguson, noted that the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission has set up a partnership with the Meister Consultant Group so communities like Amesbury can get help developing renewable energy projects while paying a reduced rate for their assistance.

“Because many communities within our region lack the expertise and resources to deal with solar energy developments,” the letter said, “the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission initiated a technical assistance program aimed at providing communities with ‘owner’s agent’ services through the Meiser Consultant Group.”

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