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Massachusetts agency, municipal utilities receive state energy efficiency grant

From the July 18, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 18, 2014

Grants totaling $1.8 million from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will enable 11 municipal utilities and the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) to expand energy efficiency programs serving their customers.

Using the MMWEC energy efficiency program model and other efficiency measures, the MMWEC member municipal utilities in Ashburnham, Chicopee, Groton, Holyoke, South Hadley, Sterling and Westfield, Massachusetts, received grants totaling $1 million. The grants will be used primarily to help fund customer rebate programs that offset the cost of energy efficiency improvements, and for conversions to high-efficiency LED streetlights in many communities, MMWEC said. Grants also were awarded to the municipal utilities in Belmont, Concord, Reading, and Taunton.

"These energy efficiency programs deliver multiple benefits to municipal utility customers and augment the state's energy efficiency initiatives," said Sandra Annis, MMWEC's energy efficiency program manager. The grants represent "an exciting opportunity to reach more customers and achieve even greater energy and dollar savings," she said.

This is the second set of energy efficiency grants to municipal utilities funded with proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions. In 2012, DOER awarded RGGI-funded grants totaling $200,000 to four municipal utilities and MMWEC. Until then, only investor-owned utilities received RGGI auction proceeds to fund energy efficiency programs.

"We are hoping the allocation of RGGI funds to municipal utility energy efficiency programs will continue to grow in the future," said MMWEC Chief Executive Officer Ronald C. DeCurzio. "Ideally, the success of existing programs will be a springboard for program development by other municipal utilities, leading to the allocation of additional RGGI funds to benefit municipal utility customers, who consume approximately 14 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts."

The grants will leverage more than $1.8 million in municipal utility-funded programs, save participants more than $1.2 million in energy costs and reduce energy use by nearly 8.3 million kilowatt-hours, said MMWEC.

"These grants will help ensure that more Massachusetts residents and businesses served by municipal utilities can improve their homes and work sites, use less energy and save money while also protecting our environment," said DOER Acting Commissioner Meg Lusardi.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett said the grants are a reflection of the state's leadership role in energy efficiency and emissions reduction. "Energy efficiency is our first fuel for a reason; it provides energy, environmental and economic benefits," she said.

The MMWEC energy efficiency program model is embodied in the organization's Green Opportunity or GO Program for commercial, industrial, and institutional customers of municipal utilities. MMWEC uses the model in working with municipal utilities to develop broad efficiency programs that deliver measurable benefits to their customers and that reflect the criteria used by DOER for awarding RGGI grants to investor-owned utilities.

MMWEC also operates its Home Energy Loss Prevention Services (HELPS) Program, which provides energy efficiency and other services to the residential customers of municipal utilities.

MMWEC is a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that provides a variety of power supply, financial, risk management and other services to the state's municipal electric utilities.


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