Haverhill Receives $300,000 State Energy Grant; Becomes a ‘Green Community’

(File photograph)

Councilor Colin F. LePage with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill is receiving more than $300,000 to curb energy costs and is eligible to receive up to $250,000 more annually under the state’s Green Communities program.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Friday the city worked on the application with help from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. About two-thirds of the state’s 351 cities and towns have already won the energy savings designation.

“This grant gives us over $300,000 for energy efficiency projects in 2019 and the potential for another $1 million over the next five years,” Fiorentini said, adding, “and that doesn’t even include all the money we are going to be saving by reducing our energy consumption.”

Grants are based on a starting amount of $125,000 plus an additional amount based on a community’s population and income.

As early as March of 2017, Councilor Colin F. LePage advocated for the green designation, having Joanne Bissetta, deputy director of the state Department of Energy Resources, address city councilors. Councilors raised the item again during September 2017 and again a year ago when Neal Duffy, the energy department’s northeast regional coordinator, outlined program benefits during a City Council meeting.

“I’m out for the taxpayers. I wanted to go after $300,000 that can be used for other purposes,” LePage said. He explained money could be used to pay for two cars needed for the city’s inspectional services department. Often, he said, the city repurposes old police cars for departments, but these cars are inefficient. Installation of more efficient heating systems at public buildings is another possible use.

Under the grant, the city must allow alternative energy research and/or generation in parts of the city, provide speedy permitting for those in “Energy Zones,” reduce overall energy use by 20 percent over five years, purchase energy-efficient cars and trucks and require home builders to use certain energy efficient materials and practices.