$3M available for energy improvements at water treatment facilities

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The Baker administration on Oct. 13 announced that up to $3 million in “gap funding” grants will be available to municipal drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities to help these plants reduce their energy use, operating costs and carbon footprint.
The grant program is designed to expedite the implementation of previously assessed energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects at municipal plants. The program helps to fill the last “gap” in project financing, enabling municipalities to use utility incentives and funds from other sources to build or install selected efficiency and clean energy projects.
“In addition to energy and environmental protections,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement, “the grants will help lower operating costs and improve the resilience and climate readiness of the state’s water infrastructure.”
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the grants will help cities and towns reduce energy use, carbon emissions and operating costs “while enjoying environmental and air quality improvements.”
State officials said the $3 million in funding, to be awarded in January, will allow the program to fill the financing gap for 20 to 30 treatment facility projects.
An initial round of grants from the gap funding program awarded more than $1.7 million to 21 water and wastewater facilities to help fund 30 clean energy and efficiency projects, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. These projects leveraged nearly $2 million in additional energy utility incentives, leading to the installation of $10.9 million in clean energy improvement projects.
The reduction in power demands by the initial gap projects is enough to fully heat and power 897 Massachusetts homes every year for nearly 15 years. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to removing 5,369 cars from the road for 15 years.
A total Massachusetts investment of $2.5 million in energy efficiency projects will result in more than $40.2 million in public benefits over 15 years, according to a cost-benefit analysis of the energy efficiency projects in the initial gap funding round, including more than $31 million in energy savings for water facilities and more than $9 million of public environmental benefits.
Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the initiative under its Clean Energy Results Program, pointed out that drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities “are often among the largest energy users in a community.”
The grants are being provided by the Department of Energy Resources from funds obtained as Alternative Compliance Payments made in lieu of compliance with the Class I and Class II Renewable Portfolio Standards and Alternative Portfolio Standards.
Municipalities and regional water and wastewater system operators can find the gap program Notice of Intent and information on how to apply for a grant at http://tinyurl.com/WaterGapFunding.
Grant applications will be accepted starting from Nov. 6 through 5 p.m. on Nov. 24.