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Money-saving green energy program enacted in Chesterfield

“With this program, it is possible that people in town who could use something like blown in insulation could actually have it done for little to no cost to them,” said Joe Gazillo, chairman of the seven-member Green Communities Committee.

Chesterfield was designated a Massachusetts Green Community by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in 2011, and the town was awarded $140,000 to be used toward reducing energy use.

Working with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Hilltown Community Development Corp., the Green Communities Committee put together the innovative grant program designed to work in conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Electric Co.’s Mass Save program.

Mass Save, a residential incentive program, offers to pay 75 percent of the cost of installing insulation and other energy-saving upgrades up to $2,000.

Using half of the $140,000 grant money, the town will kick in up to $1,000 to pay the remaining 25 percent of the costs.

“Basically, a homeowner that applies to the program could get $3,000 worth of energy saving upgrades for almost nothing,” Gazillo said.

To apply for the program, residents must first contact the Hilltown CDC. They then schedule a free Home Energy Assessment through Mass Save. When a homeowner implements the suggested upgrades, Mass Save reimburses the homeowner’s cost up to $2,000.

“There are also a lot of other measures that people can take that might not be included in a Mass Save audit,” Gazillo said. “If they can justify the upgrades, then we might be able to apply the Green Community grant money to them. Home appliances are not covered, as we felt they already had a variety of company rebates.”

The other half of the Green Community funds went toward upgrades to town buildings.

According to Gazillo, those upgrades included new heating systems for the town garage, the senior center and the Fire Department as well as new windows for the Fire Department and new doors for the Highway Department.

Gazillo said that the committee had to make some difficult decisions about were the money should be spent in town.

“For example, the Davenport Building where the town offices are could certainly use the upgrades, but that building is in such bad shape that putting in some upgrades could be just a waste of funds,” Gazillo said.

The goal of the Green Communities Committee is to reduce the town’s energy consumption by 20 percent in five years.

“The place where we can have the biggest impact on reducing our carbon footprint is in the home,” he said.

Besides helping the town to become a greener, more energy-efficient community, Gazillo said he hopes that the program will foster good will and civic pride.

“We were originally going to award $500 to people but we wanted to make a more significant impact,” Gazillo said. “I hope that this will help people to feel good about their town and that they know that we really do care about the citizens of Chesterfield.”

Residents can get more information on the grant program at an open informational meeting Saturday, Nov. 10, at the senior center at 400 Main St. The program overview will include a presentation starting every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to noon.

“We hope that people will come out in droves. This will be a first come, first served program,” Gazillo said.

For more information call Bea von Hagke at the Hilltown CDC at 296-4536, ext. 115. To reach Mass Save, call 866-527-7283.

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