At Clean Energy Forum in Boston, a search for ways to go green at the local level

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BOSTON — One day after the head of the Environmental Protection Agency formally proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan, municipal officials from the eastern part of the state came together to discuss taking the initiatives to the local level. Their focus was meeting the net-zero goal — producing enough renewable energy for the communities and zero carbon pollution.

Saving energy is saving money. That's what Anna Harris of Wayland says to people in her town of less than 14,000 residents. The co-chair of Wayland Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee set a goal that at least 30 percent of the community would participate in reducing carbon emissions within six months to one year.

"The idea is meeting people where they are," said Harris. "Not intimidating — easy, affordable and simple for everyone to participate in some way."

Harris was one of the speakers in the 2017 Clean Energy Forum held by Metropolitan Area Planning Council Wednesday. She has done solar initiatives in the past, but noted it could be too expensive, not suitable for their homes, or simply can't be done because they didn't own the properties. She suggested a more suitable approach for small towns.

"Anything from getting information where they can recycle their textiles in town, how they can get a safe home energy assessment, where they can get reduced price LED lightbulbs for their homes to save money on their utility bills, so it's a whole variety of actions," Harris said.

Meanwhile, the MAPC has completed LED street light procurements in over 70 communities with more than 130,000 streetlights. They claimed the initiative saved $4.2 million annually in energy and maintenance.

"There are a lot of opportunities, for small towns particularly, to find ways to work together," said Rebecca Davis, the council's deputy director.

From the Statehouse, Rep. Paul Mark D-Peru has proposed a bill to promote clean energy projects in Massachusetts. Called the Green Bank, the plan is essentially to bring clean energy industries to the western part of the state. The bill was filed in the beginning of this year, before the country's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. A hearing was held last September.

"Great economic development strategy and investments, as well as way to reduce the emissions. So it's a win-win-win," said Davis on the Green Bank bill. "That's why I think in the end, clean energy will prevail. Despite the loss we are having at the federal level, a lot of actions right now at the local level."

The Baker administration on Oct. 10 issued a statement committing itself to meet the targets set under former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which the Trump administration is repealing amid claims that it was improperly issued and is inconsistent with the federal Clean Air Act, the State House News Service reports.

"The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to meeting the targets established under the Clean Power Plan and other agreements critical to ensuring the Commonwealth remains a national leader in securing a clean energy future and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Peter Lorenz, communications director for the state energy and environmental affairs secretary, in the statement. "Gov. Baker's climate change executive order, bipartisan energy legislation and continued efforts to meet state and regional carbon emissions reduction targets are all examples of Massachusetts' commitment to lead in combating climate change and addressing resiliency."


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