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State releases $8 million for energy efficient rebuilding

Date: 8/16/2011

Aug. 15, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — Those whose houses were damaged in the June 1 tornado may have a chance to turn a negative situation into positive results in the future.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced on Aug. 4 that the Patrick Administration is offering $8 million to help communities rebuild by using methods to make homes and buildings more energy efficient.

“I’m proud of the work these communities have done to lift each other up after the devastating storms,” Energy and Environmental Agency (EEA) Secretary Richard Sullivan said. “I am pleased to announce this program, which will help residents and businesses rebuild, while supporting the state's growing clean energy economy, and achieving energy cost savings for generations to come.”

The program, called ReBuild Western Massachusetts, is a partnership between the DOER and the Massachusetts Green Energy Center (MGEC) and is designed to build upon the current incentive plans offered by utility companies by offering grants and/or zero- or low-interest loans through local banks for the installation of energy efficient doors and windows, heating equipment and insulation.

Wilbraham is among the towns in Hampden County that are eligible to participate in the program. In order for a homeowner to take part in the program, they must have documented damage to their home caused by the June 1 tornado.

Those with property damaged by the tornado may also take advantage of other existing incentives though the MassSave energy initiative.

Later in the year more plans will be announced regarding helping businesses and municipalities repair and restore their buildings.

The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) is offering to provide guidance to both homeowners and builders involved in the rebuilding process.

With so many initiatives and programs offering incentives to improve energy efficiency of homes in the Pioneer Valley, it is easy to get confused, spend too much money, or even fall victim to scams, Peggy MacLeod, marketing and outreach specialist for the CET, said. As a neutral third party, the CET will be able to offer insight into the most efficient and cost-effective ways to improve structures with energy efficiency in mind.

“Since 2003, we’ve helped 1,000 homes in Western Massachusetts become EnergyStar rated homes,” MacLeod said. “The program gets harder and harder as the codes get harder and harder, so we want to provide insight to make sure that people are getting the most bang for their buck, so to speak.”

MacLeod said that while the tornado was a tragedy, she pointed out that it is an opportunity for homeowners to take a step forward and save money for years to come while making already necessary repairs.

“So few people are taking advantage of the incentives that exist,” she said. “This is a way the state is trying to help people rebuild while getting them to make improvements to increase the efficiency of their homes.”

For more information on ReBuild Western Massachusetts, visit the EEA section of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Web site,

For information on the CET and its services, contact MacLeod at 586-7350 ext. 226 or To pre-register for the CET’s Smart Building sessions, contact Lisa Karlin at 586-7350 ext. 240 or

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