Dalton Shows Lt. Gov. Polito Progress With Green Grants
"I want to thank you for not only reducing your carbon footprint here but for contributing to the commonwealth goals for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions," Polito said in handing the ceremonial check to Town Manager Kenneth Walto. "You are contributing not only for your community but for the larger good and we appreciate you doing your part. ...
"I know you will use every penny wisely."
The Municipal Energy Technical Assistance funds for Dalton were part of $661,000 in grants awarded to 56 cities and towns designated or in the process of becoming Green Communities. Also receiving grants were North Adams, Peru and Pittsfield; Polito delivered grants to Middlefield and Williamsburg on Thursday after attending the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley Legislative Breakfast in Holyoke that morning.
"I spend a lot of time with all of our municipal leaders because you're all on the front line," said Polito before touring the Dalton Senior Center, which has benefited from state energy efficiency grants. "You're the ones hearing the concerns and the ideas and forming the vision for your community, and if our administration can partner with you, support you, to make that vision become a reality, then we'll knit together a stronger commonwealth of Massachusetts through the cities and towns of the commonwealth."
Walto said the grant will "help us make wise decisions" in applying for the next round of grants and in wrapping up the current grant. He said it was the members of the Dalton Green Committee who had done a lot of the work on moving the town forward.
"It literally takes the work of the community to make it happen," said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. "Thanks for the terrific work that's happening here in Dalton. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of your studies and continued opportunities for grant funding for clean energy projects."
Dalton was designated a Green Community in 2014, receiving $142,725 toward energy efficient projects. The lead was taken by the Green Dalton Committee, which has researched and developed initiatives to recommend to the Select Board.
"It took us the better part of the year to fill out and just do the requirements in order to get the certification," committee Chairman David Wasielewski said. "Spending the money has been a little more of a challenge than we had anticipated. ... We're getting there."
The committee has already seen results in the swapping out of older lighting in Town Hall for more efficient LED, or light-emitting diode, lighting. That's caused a 22 percent drop in energy use. Polito was shown the new hot water on demand heater installed in the Senior Center and that energy control upgrades were being installed.
The Senior Center wasn't that old, and was built to the new stretch code, the mechanicals were out of date and the building needed more insulation in areas. Walto estimated the savings at anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000.
"One of the first projects we did is an audit of our town buildings, so the next on deck is Town Hall," Walto said. "It's 125 years old, it's in serious need of insulation in the upper stories. The town appropriated out of its capital budget enough money to do the architectural studies, the architectural design. We got a complementary grant to do some energy studies about what the best way to go was ... that's next."
The town is also looking to replace the old heating system with fuel-efficient boilers, installing LEDs in the town garage and the library.
A more ambitious plan is swapping out the 740 streetlights that cost the town an estimated $150,000 a year. The process has been more difficult because the streetlights are owned by Eversource.
Judson said there was a grant program for muncipal-owned lighting to switch to LEDs and the state is now working on a utility-owned initiative.
"There is a proceeding in front of the [Department of Public Utilities] with Eversource ... for ways to make it more economical for towns that have utility-owned streetlights to convert," she said. "Once we see that proceeding through, we can make additional funds available."
The town's pride, however, is the two electric cars purchased through the Green Communities grant and a charging station at the Senior Center funded through a Department of Environmental Protection Grant. One is used by the inspector and the other is the police chief's unmarked car.
Joking that she loved "all my children equally" (the 351 cities and towns), Polito encouraged local leaders to take advantage of the opportunities provided through the state's programs, including the Baker-Polito's signature Community Compact Program that offers funding for technical assistance on a variety of initiatives.
Some 299 municipalities have signed compacts, but not Dalton — yet. But Polito had an application on hand to explain to the town's leaders how to enter the program.
Tags: green communities, state grant,
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