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.
The Stow Solar Challenge has been extended until Friday, May 16. To be eligible for the extension, Stow homeowners and businesses must have been in touch with the installer, New England Clean Energy by April 30, and either already have a proposal or scheduled a site visit.
The response to the Solar Challenge has been tremendous. To make sure everyone with a proposal has time to make their decisions, and to allow any last-minute candidates to look into the program, the Challenge is being extended for a short time. The goal of the Stow Solar Challenge is to get a great price for solar for as many people in town as possible.
If you already have a proposal, the deadline for signing a contract has been extended to May 16. If you have not yet contacted New England Clean Energy or had a site visit scheduled, you have until April 30 to get the site visit scheduled with New England Clean Energy, although the actual site visit can take place after that date. In all cases, you have until May 16 to sign a contract.
The original deadline for the program was April 30. To date, contracts representing 170 kilowatts of solar energy have been signed and a number of other residents have indicated they intend to move forward. To achieve Tier 5, the maximum discount level, contracts for 200 kilowatts are needed. And all participants, regardless of when they signed up for the Solar Challenge, will receive the maximum discount.
Stow homeowners and businesses wishing to have their properties evaluated for solar and to schedule site visits should contact New England Clean Energy at 978-567-6527 as soon as possible.
The Stow Solar Challenge ends Friday, May 16. There has been a terrific response from Stow residents and businesses to the benefits of clean, renewable solar energy. The Challenge has exceeded the Tier 5 goal of 200 kW and looks to be headed over 300 kW! At Tier 5 you are guaranteed the largest discount through the end of the Challenge. Don’t miss out.