NAHANT — Nahant is going green with some green from the state.
It is now among 240 Massachusetts municipalities that have committed to lowering energy consumption by 20 percent in the next five years, in exchange for funds to help it get there.
“This is a huge honor for me,” said Town Administrator Tony Barletta. “I used to work with the Department of Energy Resources. To have the town embarking on this program is great.”
Since the program began in 2010, the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has awarded more than $100 million in grant funding to Massachusetts cities and towns through designations and competitive grants. Under the Green Communities Act, the program can provide up to $20 million annually to qualified cities and towns. The goal is to support investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the cities and towns.
An eight-member exploratory committee was formed by Nahant residents in 2017 to research the benefits and feasibility of achieving Green Community status. From there, the town worked to meet eligibility requirements for the program.
Barletta credited the designation to the hard work of the committee.
Nahant is among 78 percent of Massachusetts cities and towns to have earned the designation.
“I had no doubt once Tony (Barletta) got here, we would see Nahant become a Green Community,” said Judith Judson, DOER commissioner, who acknowledged that the town was one of the nicest she had visited on her Green Community journey.
The visit came with a $130,000 check to be put toward converting existing lights to LED bulbs.
“I think this is the first time in 30 years that we’re on the receiving end of a check,” said Selectman Richard Lombard.
Lombard has been a selectman for four decades.
“Tony has been a great hire — he’s loaded with excitement and dedication and I’m so proud of him,” he said.
Being a part of the program saves on energy, on emissions, and, ultimately, on energy bills, she said.
“We really feel the partnership is a win-win-win,” said Judson.
As a Green Community, Nahant will work to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent in the next five years.
The communities in this round of awards also committed to reduce their energy consumption by the equivalent needed to heat and power more than 2,280 homes. They also committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 21,380 tons, equivalent to taking 4,501 cars off the road.
As the town reaches different milestones, it will be eligible for additional grant funding up to $250,000 per year.
Saugus has received more than $451,000 since its designation in 2015. The money has been used for projects that include the installation of an electric car charging station, the purchase of two electric cars, and lighting upgrades at Veterans Memorial Elementary School and Belmonte Middle School. Funds received last July will go toward energy conservation measures in town buildings, including the Public Safety Building and the Saugus Public Library.
Funding for the grants is available through proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP), paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.