Valley communities feted for clean energy initiatives, fighting climate change

AMHERST — Pioneer Valley communities were recognized by environmentalists Tuesday for leading the way on clean energy and fighting climate change.

In a new report by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center, a nonprofit organization, Amherst, Northampton and Holyoke were cited for their innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.

“Cities and towns in the Pioneer Valley are leading that charge and setting example(s) for others to follow across the state and across the country,” said Lukas Kauth, an organizer with Environment Massachusetts.

The full report will be released Aug. 2, although excerpts related to the Pioneer Valley were available at an event at the ValleyBike Share docking station in downtown Amherst.

Amherst and Northampton were cited for exploring the Community Choice Energy PLUS model for municipal electricity aggregation, while Amherst was cited for purchasing and testing an electric school bus and its Zero Energy Town Buildings bylaw.

Speaking about the bylaw at the event, Amherst Town Council President Lynn Griesemer said the town now faces the challenge of implementing it with the town’s coming capital projects.

“We’re a town to watch,” Griesemer said. “We hope you stay tuned.”

The Pioneer Valley as a whole was highlighted for the ValleyBike Share program, of which Amherst, Northampton and Holyoke are all participants.

“If more leaders on the state and local level follow the example of communities like Amherst, Northampton and Holyoke, a clean, renewable future for Massachusetts is within reach,” said Kauth, reading a statement from Environment Massachusetts state director Ben Hellerstein.

The event featured speakers representing Holyoke, Amherst and Northampton, Environment Massachusetts, and the climate activism groups Mothers Out Front and Climate Action Now.

The 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, H.2836 in the House and S.1958 in the Senate, was touted at the event. The legislation would transition Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and phase out fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. So far 113 legislators have endorsed the legislation, according to Environment Massachusetts, including state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, and state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton.

“The time is now for Massachusetts to transition to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Kauth, reading Hellerstein’s statement. “Cities and towns like Amherst, Holyoke and Northampton are showing just exactly how we can get it done.”

Author: Going Green

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