By Amaris Castillo
Dracut is in the early stages of pursuing a designation that many other towns in Massachusetts already have — that of a Green Community.
The Green Community Designation and Grant Program, as it is formally called, is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources that provides a road map along with financial and technical support to municipalities that pledge to cut municipal energy use by 20 percent over five years and meet four other criteria established in the Green Communities Act, according to the Massachusetts government website.
“I think the time is right,” Town Manager Jim Duggan said. “We are making the transition to LED lights from sodium-based lights. We have participated in municipal aggregation.”
Duggan met recently with Beverly Woods of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments, Neal Duffy, Green Communities coordinator for the Northeast Region, and others to talk about the process.
NMCOG is assisting Dracut, as well as Billerica and Dunstable, in the process, according to Woods. The three communities are the last of this region to seek the designation, she said.
“In Dracut’s case, if they were designated a Green Community, their designation would be in the amount of $206,000,” Woods said. “They can use those funds to pay for any energy project that they’ve identified in their energy-reduction plan.”
Woods said other communities have used the award money for such projects as replacing windows and purchasing new boilers. After the initial award, Woods said municipalities designated as Green Communities are eligible to apply for competitive grant money.
Duggan said there are many advantages to being designated a Green Community, adding that it carries the message to residents and businesses that the town is taking conscientious steps toward decreasing emissions and looking for opportunities for renewable energies. The town manager said the designation would open up grant opportunities for Dracut to work on such projects as installing a charging station in town.
Woods said she is working with the town to pull out all its utility bills. The Green Communities designation application is due in October.