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Shelburne seeks to be part of ‘community energy’ planning project

SHELBURNE — If the Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ application to participate in a pilot energy program is accepted, Greenfield, Montague, Buckland and Shelburne could get help in developing strategies for renewable energy projects that are suited to each town’s needs and interests.

The statewide Community Energy Strategies Pilot Program will be limited to five cities, towns or regional planning agencies like FRCOG. Those selected will receive technical assistance from experts hired by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create planning strategies for making communities greener with a combination of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

If FRCOG is selected, Greenfield, Montague, Buckland and Shelburne will be the focus of FRCOG’s renewable energy initiative.

Shelburne’s Board of Selectmen agreed recently to write a letter of support for the town’s inclusion in this program.

Planning Board Chairman Matt Marchese said the goals for Shelburne would include looking at all forms of alternative energy, including wind, solar power, geothermal and others. Second, participation would help the town to find out what kind of federal and state funding is being given out as incentives for alternative energy resources. The third goal would be to have “more comprehensive energy dialogues within the community” about alternative energy sources, now that the town does not have a large-scale wind-turbine proposal on the table.

Selectman John Payne praised Marchese for “managing a very volatile process” during the controversy that arose over a proposal for an eight-turbine wind farm for Mount Massaemet.

“You guided your committee in a fair and balanced manner,” said Payne. “But I have heard concerns that this would be a back-door way to bring in more wind. Keep this balanced, so that more than just wind is the focus — so that other alternatives are considered.”

Marchese said he also wanted thorough discussions of all options for alternative energy. He said the town doesn’t have a lot of resources for energy development, but being part of this project may “help us get our foot in the door” for renewable energy and energy conservation funding.

Town officials from Greenfield, Montague and Buckland have also sent letters of support for this project, says FRCOG Planner Peggy Sloan.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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