Stow is one of the thirteen communities of the MAGIC subregion (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination). MAGIC has launched a study on adaptation to climate change in our region and is soliciting input. They have creating a survey to identify your concerns and priorities. The survey is here and takes only a few minutes to complete. Additional background on the study is available here.
As a result of the success of the Stow Solar Challenge last year, our solar installer partner, New England Clean Energy, donated a solar system to the town and installed it on the Town Building. In October, we dedicated the system with town officials, Solar Challenge volunteers, and residents who wanted clean energy through solar.
Thanks to Stow TV and Jonathan Daisy, here is a video of the installation and dedication. Enjoy the YouTube video here. The dedication itself is about a minute into the video.
Stow received a great holiday present! The state’s Green Community division recognized Stow as a Green Community and awarded the town a grant of $144,115. This achievement is the result of a collaborative effort by the Stow Energy Working Group, town boards and departments, and the support of our Town Administrator, Selectmen, and residents.
The grant will go towards municipal energy conservation projects which will save the town an estimated $44,000 annually and demonstrate the town’s commitment to clean energy solutions.
To be designated a Green Community, the town had to demonstrate it met the five Green Community criteria. This included the development of an Energy Reduction Plan for town buildings and vehicles, and a vote at town meeting last spring to adopt the “Stretch Energy Code”. Also, because of how the program is structured, most Green Communities are in areas served by large investor owned utilities, such as National Grid. Stow is one of the few communities served by a municipal light plant, Hudson Light & Power, to achieve the Green Communities designation.
At the September 8th Selectmen’s meeting, the Energy Reduction Plan and Fuel Efficient Vehicle Policy were unanimously approved. This milestone means the town has now met all the criteria for Green Community designation! The formal announcement by the state Green Communities division occurs in November. We are confident our submission will be successful and the town will receive an initial state grant of $134,000 for energy conservation.
Article 49 on the warrant, Adoption of the Stretch Code, was approved by a unanimous vote at the May 4th Town Meeting. The article was jointly sponsored by the Energy Working Group and the Building Department. It was endorsed by the Selectmen, Finance Committee, and Planning Board. The article was presented by Arnie Epstein, co-chair of the Energy Working Group, and Craig Martin, Building Commissioner. Arnie presented an overview of the Green Communities program while Criag focused on the Stretch Code itself. The Town Meeting presentation is here. This is a big step forward towards our designation as a Green Community as the adoption of the Stretch Code is one of the five criteria for Green Community status.
Stow will be applying for Green Community designation this fall. As a Green Community, the town will receive an initial grant of $134,000 from the state for energy conservation measures and save on annual fuel costs. One of the criteria of a Green Community is the adoption of the “Stretch Energy Code” which is article 49 on the warrant for May town meeting.
At the Selectmen’s meeting on April 14th, Jim Barry from the state Green Communities Division, provided a comprehensive presentation of the Stretch Energy Code. Two key points from the presentation are.
- The Stretch Code is no longer much of stretch. With the adoption last July of the new state base energy code, IECC2012, there is no longer a significant difference between the base code and the Stretch Code.
- 147 communities have already adopted the Stretch Code including many neighboring towns – Acton, Maynard, Harvard, Lancaster, Sudbury.
The Stretch Energy Code presentation is here. More information on the state Green Communities program is here. And our progress towards Green Community designation is here.
At the Selectmen’s meeting on 12/9, Arnie Epstein and George Peterman of the Energy Working Group, Craig Martin, Building Department, and Karen Kelleher, Planning Board, presented status of the Green Communities activities. Following the presentation, the Selectmen passed a motion requesting the Energy Working Group to complete work on the Green Communities requirements by October – the next date the state will accept applications. The presentation is here and includes current status of the five criteria the town must meet to be designated a Green Community.
Kelly Brown, our regional Green Communities coordinator, estimates Stow will receive an initial grant of $134,000 if we are successful. And we would then be eligible for annual competitive grants. There is no cost to the town for this funding.
The funding would go towards municipal energy conservation and renewable energy measures which would save the town over $44,000 annually and demonstrate the town’s commitment to clean energy solutions.
Because of how the program is structured, most Green Communities to date are in areas served by large investor owned utilities – such as National Grid and NSTAR. Stow would be one of the few communities served by a municipal light plant, Hudson Light & Power, to achieve the Green Communities designation. More information on Green Communities is here.
Kelly Brown, our regional Green Communities coordinator, presented an overview of the Green Communities program to the Selectmen on 9/23. To achieve the Green Community designation, the town must meet five criteria that put us on a long-term path of promoting clean energy solutions and reducing energy costs. If successful, the town would be awarded a grant from the state to help achieve these goals and can participate in an annual competitive grant program. Earlier, Stow had been unable to participate in the program but a recent ruling from the DOER (Department of Energy Resources) has “opened the door”. After the presentation, the Selectmen asked the Energy Working Group to investigate moving forward with the Green Community designation.
Sharon Brownfield and Arnie Epstein presented a wrap up of the Stow Solar Challenge to the Selectmen on 9/23. The success was attributed to the hard work and creative ideas of the Solar Challenge volunteers and great support from town officials, businesses, and residents. The Selectmen said the Solar Challenge represented the best example of a community based program and congratulated the Solar Challenge volunteers for achieving one of the most successful solar programs in the state. The Solar Challenge wrap up presentation is available here.
Because the Solar Challenge achieved the highest discount level – tier 5 – New England Clean Energy will donate a solar system to the town. After considering different locations, the recommendation was to install the donated system on the Town Building. Roy Van Cleef, from New England Clean Energy, presented details of the system with support from Craig Martin. The Selectmen voted to approve the installation on the Town Building.
The Stow Solar Challenge ended with a bang last week! 59 residents and businesses contracted 417 kilowatts of solar energy. Not only does this blow away our goal of 200 kilowatts, it makes the Stow Solar Challenge among the most successful community solar programs in the state. Per resident, the Solar Challenge exceeded the results of all but one of the 26, state-sponsored, Solarize Mass campaigns run to date.
Everyone in Stow should be proud of our town – particularly those who made the decision to go solar. Clean, renewable solar energy is not only a smart financial decision, it is free of greenhouse gas emissions, and helps the fight against climate change.