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Green funds still available for Chesterfield’s home-energy improvements

— Residents looking to reduce their costs by improving their home’s energy efficiency, may be eligible to receive up to $3,000 toward energy-saving home improvements.

“We are really trying to get the word out so more people will be aware of the program,” said Bea von Hagke of the Hilltown Community Development Corp.

In December 2011, Chesterfield was designated a Green Community by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. This qualified the town to receive $140,000 in grant funding from the state for energy-saving projects and programs.

Chesterfield’s Green Communities Committee allocated roughly $60,000 to upgrade the heating systems and windows in several town buildings, while $55,000 was earmarked for a “citizens initiative.” Working in conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECO), the Hilltown Community Development Corp. and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the town is offering $1,000 per household to offset the costs of a variety of home energy improvements.

“We still have about $50,000 to work with,” von Hagke said. The grants are available on a first-come-first-served basis until the money runs out.

The grant program supplements WMECO’s “Mass Save” residential incentive program, which pays 75 percent — up to $2,000 — of the cost of installing insulation and weatherization upgrades. Combining WMECO’s incentive, and the $1,000 Green Communities grant, Chesterfield residents could receive up to $3,000 toward improving the energy performance of their homes.

To date, 28 applications have been submitted to the Hilltown Community Development Corp. for projects that include replacing and repairing wood stoves, windows and doors, installing insulating curtains and window inserts, insulating attics and sub-floors and replacing inefficient furnaces.

Chesterfield resident Kester Warlow-Harry has taken advantage of the program to outfit her home with insulating shades.

“I started putting the shades up about six years ago, doing a few windows at a time. The first year I did three big windows and that made a huge difference in my heating costs,” Warlow-Harry said in a recent phone interview at her Bryant Street home.

Warlow-Harry praised the Green Communities Committee for making sure that a portion of the funding from the state went directly back to Chesterfield residents in a very tangible way.

“I think it is a wonderful program. It isn’t difficult to sign up for, and the in-home audit only takes about half an hour so it is not very invasive at all,” she said.

Warlow-Harry is such a fan of the program that she is volunteering her time to help residents negotiate the application process.

“While it is a pretty simple process, I think some people might not have the time or energy to organize things like this,” Warlow-Harry said. “If anyone is interested, I will make all the necessary phone calls and write out the applications for them.”

The town is inviting residents to an information session on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Senior Center at 400 Main Road. The session will be offered by a representative from the Hilltown Commnity Development Corp.

According to von Hagke, the Hilltown CDC and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission can also answer questions about other available incentives such as rebates for efficient heating, solar hot water, solar photovolt­aic and micro-wind systems, as well as the Mass Save Heat Loan Program, which provides a 0 percent loan up to $25,000 for energy efficiency upgrades and solar hot water systems.

Funding for the Green Community program comes from monies collected from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state cap-and-trade program that requires electric power generators to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide.

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