By John Anderson
Auburn was one of 47 municipalities that received a Green Communities Grant yesterday morning. Representatives from cities and towns across the Commonwealth gathered at Auburn Town Hall to hear the award announcement by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. The grants by the Baker-Polito Administration total $9,580,476.
Auburn’s $186,773 grant will fund heating system burner control upgrades and installation of variable frequency drives at the high school, an LED lighting upgrade at the library, and building weatherization measures at three schools. Assistant Town Planner Eric L’Esperance said the town will now enter into a contract with the State, and disbursements will be made in three phases as the work is completed.
Commissioner Judson told the audience, “Massachusetts has been a leader in energy efficiency as well as green energy.” She added that the strategy is for long-term cost savings while strengthening communities.
Green Communities Director Dan Knapik added that this round of grants included $224,000 for electric vehicles and chargers for one community, something he expects to see more of in the future.
155 Massachusetts municipalities have been designated as Green Communities, and this represents 54% of the State’s population. This was the fifth time green community grants have been awarded, and the total to date is about $60 million.
In her welcoming message, Town Manager Julie Jacobson said the Town has received two competitive Green Community grants since achieving the Green Community designation in 2012. Previous grants have paid for interior lighting retrofits at six facilities, building envelope sealing and weatherization at four facilities and HVAC upgrades at three facilities. Now, there are three grants in four years.
Auburn’s last grant paid for the conversion from oil to natural gas at town hall as well as the installation of a high-efficiency gas boiler and an energy management system. Jacobson said, “In cooperation with behavioral changes by our staff, the Town Hall has seen a 16.5% reduction in electricity consumption and a 46.2% reduction in heating fuel consumption since our baseline year.”
The Town Manager added that they are primarily applying for grants that don’t require financial contributions from the town. Under her administration, Auburn has received about $3 million in grants. That is a nice benefit for the taxpayers.