DOER grant allows MMWEC to expand energy efficiency efforts

Date: 2/13/2012

February 13, 2012

LUDLOW — A first-time grant of $200,000 from the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will enable three municipal utilities and the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) to expand energy efficiency programs for their commercial and industrial customers.

Using the MMWEC energy efficiency program model, the MMWEC member utilities in Westfield, Chicopee and Ipswich received grants totaling $142,500, primarily to bolster customer rebate programs that offset the cost of making energy efficiency improvements. MMWEC received a grant of $7,500 to promote its energy efficiency program and assist municipal utilities with delivery of related customer services.

"This grant is certainly a welcomed contribution to expanding the energy efficiency services provided by these municipal utilities," MMWEC Chief Executive Officer Ronald C. DeCurzio said. "We are hoping the allocation of these funds can be expanded in the future to benefit additional municipal utilities and their customers."

MMWEC coordinated the competitive grant application process for its member utilities in Westfield, Chicopee and Ipswich, while the Reading municipal utility also received funding for an energy-saving water heating program. The MMWEC members will use the grants to increase rebates and energy audit funding for commercial and industrial customers. Generally, the efficiency measures covered include improvements in heating and cooling, windows, boilers and furnaces, lighting, energy monitoring systems and insulation.

"There is no cheaper or cleaner fuel than fuel we don't use, and I applaud these utilities for taking the initiative to expand that model," Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. said.

The grants are funded through proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade emissions reduction program that has generated more than $150 million for Massachusetts through the sale of emission allowances. The cost of these allowances is reflected in regional electricity prices for all consumers, and, until now, municipal utilities were barred from receiving RGGI grants.

"These awards mark the first time the state has invested in energy efficiency programs at municipal light and power companies instead of investor-owned utilities," Sullivan said.

MMWEC uses its energy efficiency program model in working with municipal utilities to develop comprehensive efficiency programs that deliver measurable benefits to their customers and reflect the criteria for awarding RGGI grants to investor-owned utilities.

"Ideally, the success of the programs in Westfield, Ipswich and Chicopee will be a springboard for program development in other municipal utilities as well as the allocation of additional RGGI funding to municipal utilities," DeCurzio said.

"Westfield is delighted to be among the first municipal utilities in Massachusetts to receive a grant from the DOER," Westfield Gas & Electric Manager Daniel J. Howard said.

"We have worked hard at initiating a program for our commercial and industrial customers that promotes conservation and energy efficiency while expanding existing programs to our residential customers. We are pleased to see that our efforts have been recognized and that we can further expand these programs with the benefit of this grant," Howard added.

"The DOER grant will enable Chicopee to move forward with expanding programs to better serve our customers and help meet our system needs with energy efficiency and conservation initiatives," Chicopee Electric Light Manager Jeffrey R. Cady said. "Using energy efficiently is essential in delivering a reliable and economic supply of electricity to Chicopee consumers. This grant will keep us moving in that direction."

MMWEC is a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that provides a variety of power supply, financial, risk management and other services to the state's consumer-owned, municipal utilities.

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