Gov. Charlie Baker announces the latest round of Green Communities Competitive Grant Award recipients in Melrose on Sept. 20. (Photo courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)

In the midst of Climate Week, the Baker-Polito administration yesterday announced the award of $6.3 million in Green Communities competitive grants to 51 municipalities across Massachusetts to fund local clean energy projects.

“Supporting cities and towns as they implement local projects that reduce long-term energy costs and carbon emissions is essential to helping Massachusetts meet its aggressive climate goals and achieve net-zero emissions in 2050,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press event in Melrose. “Massachusetts continues to be a national leader in climate action, and our administration is committed to supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that make the Commonwealth a cleaner, healthier and more affordable place to live.”

Cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding. The grants provide financial support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the designated communities’ clean energy goals.

Of 351 Massachusetts cities and towns, 280 have earned the Green Communities designation, accounting for 88% of the Commonwealth’s population, according to the Department of Energy Resources.

This round of Green Communities competitive grants is awarded to existing Green Communities that have successfully invested their initial designation grants and previous competitive grant awards. Grants are capped at $200,000 per municipality, with the exception of larger, multiyear projects, which are capped at $500,000.

Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from carbon allowance auctions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Massachusetts has awarded a total of nearly $160 million to Green Communities in Designation Grants and Competitive Grants since 2010.

“The clean energy projects the Green Communities grants will fund, including air-source heat pumps, hybrid police cruisers, battery-electric vehicles, and electric vehicle charging stations, will deliver improved public health and provide better quality of life for our residents,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card.

More than half of the communities in this round of grants included at least one vehicular project. Communities are installing 12 charging stations, replacing 18 gas-powered police cruisers with hybrid SUV police cruisers, and replacing seven gas-powered vehicles with battery-electric vehicles. The annual greenhouse gas emissions reduction from these vehicular projects is 231 tons, and the lifetime reduction is 1,158 tons, according to the Department of Energy Resources.

Additionally, more than a third of the communities in this round have at least one heat pump project. Once installed, those projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 284 tons annually, and 6,299 tons during the equipments’ lifetime.

View list of grant winners and projects