State officials celebrate green energy grants in Dartmouth

Sep 17, 2020

Although it’s closed for the season, Dartmouth’s iconic Bucket ice cream stand had one more role to play this year: the backdrop to a congratulatory visit from state officials celebrating the town’s Green Communities Grant award.

Massachusetts’ Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides came out to celebrate the successful grant application in a small afternoon ceremony on Sept. 17.

This year Dartmouth received the maximum possible grant of $200,000 from the Green Communities Grant program, which will go towards energy-efficient upgrades.

A majority of the funds ($123,581) will be spent on a steam and hot water heating system conversion for Dartmouth Middle School, while the rest will go to LED lighting and weatherization for DCTV, the Bucket, Smith Neck Recreation Center, and the Council on Aging.

Town Treasurer Greg Barnes noted that the upgrades will help the town save money in energy costs.

“We spend millions of dollars each year between electricity and other forms of energy,” said Barnes. “So cutting back on its usage obviously can save us money.”

“I’d rather lay off energy than people,” he added.

Savings can also come from reducing maintenance costs on newer systems, Barnes noted, including reducing the need to replace items like light bulbs. “LEDs, for example, can be much more efficient than incandescent...and they last much longer.”

Dartmouth Energy Manager Kathy Stanley and Interim Director of Development Cody Haddad both worked on the grant application for the town.

“It feels fabulous,” said Stanley of earning the maximum grant funding.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the town,” agreed Haddad. “Dartmouth’s been a leader in sustainable efforts and energy reduction throughout the state, and really throughout the country.”

“Currently, Dartmouth is the number one [municipality] in Massachusetts in terms of total megawatts of solar installed,” added Stanley. “We have been very progressive in our energy management planning, and we’ve applied for every available grant.”

Several officials spoke to mark the occasion.

In his speech, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes cited Dartmouth’s Green Community status — which it has held since 2017 — as well as the fact that the town has received over $600,000 in grants from the program in the past three years, resulting in savings of nearly $75,000 per year.

“It’s really great to be here in Dartmouth,” noted Polito when she took the podium. “This is the first event that is non-Covid [related] that I’ve attended outside of the state house in over six months. It feels really good!”

She added that she was “thrilled” to celebrate the town at the Bucket, and noted that the Green Communities grant program will help the state achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Energy Secretary Theoharides referred to the dangers of climate change in her speech, thanking Dartmouth and other municipalities for doing their part to reduce energy consumption.

“We’re certainly seeing the urgency of climate change right now in this moment,” she said. “As the western wildfires continue to burn, even to the point where we have haze [visible in our skies]...reducing our impact in terms of climate change is certainly front and center in our minds.”

Other speakers on the occasion included Green Communities grant program director Brian Sullivan, state representative and Dartmouth resident Chris Markey, Select Board chair Frank Gracie III, and Select Board member John Haran.