With everything going on right now, we understand how difficult it can be to keep track of all the changes impacting your municipality. As the Energy Advisor for many communities throughout the state, we thought it valuable to provide highlights regarding some of the changes affecting this year’s Green Communities Grants in Massachusetts.
Significant changes and highlights:
Deadlines are approaching quickly, and applications are due soon.
The DOER implemented a change in response to requests by cities and towns for larger single grants to facilitate large emission reduction projects. Building Decarbonization Projects, previously known as Custom Projects, help reduce fossil fuel use in school and municipal facilities. There is a $500K cap supporting this type of project, and the project results require demonstrated reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Guidelines for a decarbonization grant include at least a 25% local match. The window to complete a project is three years. The municipality forgoes the opportunity for other projects and for competitive grants for two years following the award.
Support for new fossil fuel heating equipment is extremely limited, regardless of its efficiency. The DOER emphasized that any request for new fossil fuel-fired heating equipment requires an explanation of why other alternatives are not feasible. In addition, it requires a 50% municipal cost share for this type of system.
LED lighting support is now limited, and only applies to public school facilities. LED lighting must include controls and be dimmable and cannot exceed 50% of your total eligible grant award.
Residential appliances are no longer eligible; however, commercial appliances remain funded.
The DOER will not fully fund projects beyond their measured life. In other words, if the life of an approved piece of equipment is shorter than the payback period, the municipality will be required to share the cost.
A notable change this year also includes the availability of funding for EV charging stations that exclusively service municipal fleets. In previous years, the charging stations had to be accessible to the public.
Benefits for Green Communities in good standing:
Communities that have achieved a minimum of a 15% reduction of their Energy Reduction Plan target for three or more years and have been a Green Community in good standing for at least six years, have special eligibility and opportunities for additional funding.
Because of the prioritization of electrification, eligible communities can double their funding for new or leased battery-powered electric vehicles. Note that the electric vehicle funding is only available to replace an existing gas or diesel vehicle and is not available for replacement of existing electric vehicles.
Qualifying communities can also receive funding for behavior-based efficiency programs and for community outreach programs. Municipalities interested in our LMI Solar Programs should take note, as the DOER can help fund promotion and outreach within your community. Make sure to highlight any benefits to Environmental Justice Communities in your grant narrative; note that LMI community solar efforts qualify.
Lastly, for these communities, there is funding for energy efficiency projects not included in the municipality’s baseline. This includes, for example, a district associated with the municipality such as a water district or a regional school district. Freedom’s clients, Salem Beverly Water Supply Board and Lynn Water and Sewer, are perfect examples.
If you are in the $750K club, note that your maximum award is limited to $100K this year (not including decarbonization projects).
Congratulations to all our Green Communities
Hats Off to Freedom’s Municipal Clients—Beverly, Brookline, Framingham, Lexington, Newton and Salem for achieving $750K club status, leading the charge, and maximizing the Green Communities program!