Hadley adopts energy reduction plan

  • Hadley Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/17/2023 1:38:36 PM

HADLEY — With its acceptance of an energy reduction plan this week, the Select Board is taking the final step needed to put Hadley in the Green Communities program, where town officials will be able to access state grants that can fund cutting municipal energy use and enhancing sustainability projects.

The Select Board’s unanimous vote on Wednesday to adopt the energy reduction plan, cutting energy use by 20% over five years, and to be part of Green Communities, leaves South Hadley as the lone Hampshire County community not yet in the state’s Department of Energy Resources program.

Jack Czajkowski, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said by joining 290 other cities and towns already in the program, Hadley will be able to seek funds and essentially pursue “free money” that can be used for immediate or future improvements to Hopkins Academy, the Hadley Elementary school and the Department of Public Works garage.

“We don’t have the key to the door, we haven’t been allowed to do that,” Czajkowski said.

Hadley first began pursuing Green Communities in summer 2020, and since then has had to meet five criteria before seeking the $130,000 designation grant from the state.

Among those actions have included some that were brought and passed by Town Meeting. The measures have included adopting an overlay district for as-of-right siting for renewable energy facilities, such as large-scale solar arrays, offering expedited application and permitting for renewable energy, reviewing and adopting a fuel-efficient town vehicles policy and adjusting the stretch code to meet state goals that mandate energy-efficiency requirements for many new buildings, including homes, before they are constructed.

The final action was the energy reduction plan, crafted when energy source auditors came to town to measure energy and light use. This was coordinated by Mimi Kaplan, a senior planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Czajkowski said Hadley can save 20% on areas that have been reviewed.

“With lots of thanks to Mimi and other members of PVPC, they’ve done a pretty remarkable job of pulling this together,” Czajkowski said.

Chris Mason, energy and sustainability officer for the state’s energy resources department, said a designation grant will be made to Hadley, and this can be followed by pursuit of competitive grants.

“Not only is it this initial grant that you will get, which we will be able to help you address the items in your energy plan, there’ll be ongoing grants available,” Mason said.

Energy Resources Deputy Director Mark Rabinsky said Hadley can use up to 10% of the first grant for administrative support and then apply for other competitive grants that are up to $200,000 a year, all for energy efficient measures within municipal operations.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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