Greenfield named ‘Crown Community’ for renewable energy program

Recorder Staff
Published: 2/7/2017 11:45:20 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield has been honored by American City & County magazine as a 2016 Crown Community for pioneering the purchase of locally generated renewable energy certificates into the Greenfield Light and Power Program.

“One of the things we really looked for when we were making the decision, we looked for innovative projects — something that wasn’t being done in other parts of the country or not being done much,” said Jason Axelrod, staff writer for American City & County and a judge for the awards.

American City & County calls itself the voice of state and local government, with an audience of city, county and state officials charged with developing and implementing government policy, programs and projects. Each year, the magazine presents its Crown Communities awards to local governments that have executed the most innovative and effective projects.

“Greenfield Light and Power already offered participants 100 percent green power, and this added achievement turns their electricity bill into an investment in local renewable energy,” Mayor William Martin said in a news release. “I always envisioned including locally generated electricity as part of the Greenfield Light and Power program, and I am grateful for the recognition of this milestone from American City & County.”

Martin said municipal aggregation was an untapped tool to accomplish sustainability goals, and Greenfield has developed a model that’s being replicated in communities across the state.

Bill Wolpin, executive director of content for American City & Country, helped select 2016’s winners and said the overarching theme of the Crown Communities awards is the project’s long-term benefit to each community.

The Greenfield Light and Power program was the first in the state to negotiate the incorporation of locally generated renewable energy certificates.

Keeping energy dollars local is a prominent goal in Greenfield’s Sustainable Master Plan. The town’s Energy and Sustainability Department said locally produced renewable energy certificates strengthen Greenfield’s economy and guarantee an income stream for the system owners, regardless of the state of the renewable energy certificate auction market, which has been oversupplied for months.

This aspect of the program was implemented at no cost to the town and no additional cost to the electricity supplier. Massachusetts requires electricity suppliers to purchase a set percentage of renewable energy certificates from a variety of eligible renewable energy projects. The program acquired a total of 1,385 solar renewable energy certificates from solar systems in Greenfield and nearby communities.

“This was a very collaborative project. They partnered with two companies to develop this aggregation plan, but they also sourced that green energy from providers in the Northeast,” Axelrod said. “Obtaining green energy is an emerging trend among cities and counties, and it just seemed like Greenfield was doing something that not a whole lot of cities are doing.”

Many of the solar certificates purchased are the product of the Greenfield Solar Challenge, a partnership between the town and local solar installer PV Squared. Additionally, the program acquired renewable energy certificates from energy systems on four Massachusetts farms.

“Through Greenfield’s innovation, municipal aggregation is now being utilized to provide a powerful voice for sustainable energy goals, directing the dollars that every utility customer already spends to power their homes to support regional renewable energy generation and enable the community to enjoy fossil fuel free electricity,” said Carole Collins, Greenfield’s director of Energy and Sustainability.

Six communities across the country received a 2016 Crown Communities award.

“It’s an elite crowd, even the biggest years we might have 9 (winners),” Wolpin said. “It’s a pretty select group of people.”

You can reach Aviva Luttrell at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268
On Twitter: @AvivaLuttrell


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