By John Lynds
Ward One City Councilor Wayne Lozzi brought in Neil Duffy of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to brief the Lynn City Council how it can become a Green Community at Tuesday’s meeting. In September, the Council voted unanimously to adopt the Lynn City Council’s Education and Environmental Committee’s recommendation to designate Lynn as a Green Community.
“We want to thank Neil Duffy for coming here to tell us how his agency is going to help Lynn move forward to becoming a Green Community,” said Lozzi.
Duffy said the state has already designated 185 Green Communities across the Commonwealth, and there are 20 more ready to come online by the end of the year.
“The way the program works is that a city or town has to first meet five criteria,” explained Duffy. “After those criteria are met the city can submit an application. If the city’s application is accepted, and it is designated a Green Community, it will become eligible for a $510,000 grant for energy efficiency projects and up to $250,000 annually in completive grants for energy efficiency grants.”
To become a full-fledged Green Community, Lynn must provide as-of-right zoning in designated locations for renewable and alternative energy generation, research and development, or manufacturing facilities. Lynn must then adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities. Lynn will then establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by twenty percent within five years. The city must then purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles. Finally Lynn must set requirements to minimize life-cycle energy costs for new construction in the city.
Duffy said that his department not only represents designated so-called ‘Green Communities’ but all 351 cities and towns and the state and stressed that those areas that do not receive designation are still entitled to a whole host of programs and benefits to improve Lynn’s overall carbon footprint.
One such program, explained Duffy, is a street light conversion grant that is now available.
“There is somewhat of an urgency to get cities and towns involved in this program,” said Duffy.
Duffy said he has already met with Lynn’s Inspectional Services Department to brief them on the program and said Lynn could be eligible for $380,000 grant to help the city convert Lynn’s street lights to more energy efficient LED street lights. The cost of the conversion would be about $2 million but Duffy said the cost of the conversion, especially with the help of grant money, would pay for itself down the road. Duffy said Lynn could see a savings of $400,000 annually from converting to LED lights.
Council President Darren Cyr said applying for the street light conversion grant should be done.
“It’s a $2 million project and with the grant the city would be paying a little over $1.5 million,” argued Cyr. “With an estimated savings of $400,000 per year we could pay off the loan in three years. I’m just speaking from my perspective, but Lynn is facing tough fiscal times so I think Lynn has to do this and it is a good move.”
As far as continuing with the process of making Lynn a Green Community, Duffy said the next step, especially given that the City Council is on board, is to identify staff at City Hall that can begin getting the ball rolling with the application process.
“Hopefully we can push the application through in the next few months to come,” he said.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, this year around $6.5 million in additional grants for energy projects in newly designated Green Communities will go towards reducing energy use in municipal and school buildings, helping cities and towns adopt the latest building codes as well as reducing a municipalities overall carbon footprint.