Town officials have learned that Amherst could win $28,000 for renewable energy efforts if 90 or so residents contribute $100 by March 1 to develop wind-power projects in New England.
The proposition, which Select Board members heard on Monday, is made possible by a nonprofit consumer organization, the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance.
Under MECA’s Clean Energy Choice Program, the organization will match contributions to renewable energy projects – in Amherst’s case, the New England Wind Fund – twice.
MECA will match 100 percent of payments to the wind fund with a grant to fund clean energy projects. Another grant equal to 100 percent of a community’s contribution will be used to fund clean energy projects benefiting low-income residents of Massachusetts.
MECA is throwing in a bonus to communities in which 3 percent of the population is enrolled by March 31. In Amherst’s case, that would amount to a total of 275 households contributing $100 each.
Another 90 to 100 households would put Amherst over the top, said Peggy MacLeod, marketing director at the Center for Ecological Technology in Northampton.
“We really want to see Amherst get it,” MacLeod told the Select Board. The $100 contributions, which are tax deductible, are held in a trust and used to pay for the first wind farm that is developed in the region, MacLeod said.
Northampton, where the program is slightly different because of the participation of National Grid, receives $3,500 per month in grants from MECA, MacLeod said.
The percentage of Northampton residents enrolled is reaching the 6-percent mark, MacLeod said, thanks in part to a strong effort by Mayor Clare Higgins, city councilors and others who sent email to people. “And people got it,” MacLeod said.
Select Board members agreed to display a poster with a thermometer on it showing how many residents Amherst needs to sign up by Mar. 31 to get the bonus worth $13,500 at Town Hall and the landfill.
For more information and to enroll, see www.NewEnglandWind.org.
By Mary Carey
16 February 2007
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