PEPPERELL – Pepperell officials are pursuing a Green Communities designation for the town in 2014, according to Town Administrator John Moak.
By being designated as a green community, Pepperell would be eligible for state grants.
“It can come with a grant for as much as $150,000 to help with capital improvements related to green communities projects,” said Selectmen Chairman Stephen Themelis.
There are five requirements that towns must meet to be designated as a green community, according to the program’s website. Towns must provide for research, development or manufacturing of renewable or alternative energy, adopt an expedited permitting process for renewable-energy facilities, develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years, purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles and set requirements to minimize energy costs for new construction.
According to Moak, Pepperell is already well on its way to meeting several of these.
“Supporting alternative energy, either as a source or research can be done easily at Lomar Park. It isn’t necessarily a matter of wind turbines and solar panels but a matter of will you allow research,” he said.
The town already has an expedited permitting process, he said.
“There’s a couple of zoning issues that have to be taken care of, there’s policies that the town has to have about vehicle purchases, but the town of Pepperell only buys trucks and police crusiers and they’re exempt,” Moak said.
The only requirement that Moak said he has concerns about is the need to reduce energy use by 20 percent over five years.
Since Pepperell has already worked toward reducing energy costs, by replacing light and heating systems in town buildings, Moak said he hopes the progress that the town has already been made can be counted toward the five-year plan.
“If we have to use today’s date as the start for the program, we’re going to find it difficult to cut another 20 percent within five years without some major expenditures,” Moak said. “We’re hoping we can address this from a retrospective time frame, since we’ve accomplished some of it already.”
Moak said he hopes that Pepperell receives the designation after this October’s deadline.
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