AMHERST – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan announced the creation of a new extension service at the University of Massachusetts – this one to address energy aided by a $6 million grant.
The university already has a long of tradition of extension service in agriculture; this will be the same to meet community energy needs, Sullivan said.
Sullivan made the announcement during his remarks at a daylong workshop called “Helping Communities with Renewable Energy” Thursday morning at UMass.
The new service will be administrated by the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Gov. Deval L. Patrick in Springfield, meanwhile, announced a $5.2 million grant to the UMass to the UMass satellite center in Springfield.
About $2 million of the grant will expand services at the U.S. Department of Energy Northeast Clean Energy Application Center located on campus, with the $4 million for the outreach center.
Sullivan sees the extension service being able to help communities to reduce energy consumption.
He said that the Patrick administration has been able to show that investing in clean energy “can grow the economy. You can make smart investments and have good economic growth.” He said t5,500 businesses in green energy have been created with 80,000 new jobs in the sector so far.
“It’s very exciting,” said Dave Damery, director of building materials and wood technology and associate professor at UMass. “It’s a natural extension of our role… as a land grant institution,” he said.
He sees the program helping communities and towns, businesses and others adopt renewal energy measures and reduce their carbon footprint.
Sullivan said while the grant is for four years, he expects UMass will be able to continue the service on its own.
“This is a great vote of confidence by the state and recognition of UMass Amherst’s leadership in sustainability and energy initiatives,” said Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in a statement.
“We are honored by the trust places in us by the governor and enthusiastically accept the challenge to be the go to place for town and city energy managers across Massachusetts, as the clearinghouse for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
Damery said they hope to have the program up very soon and have been working on such a sercie informally. The grant formalizes the program and allows it to expand.