Harwich Moves Closer To Green Communities Bid

HARWICH – Town officials in Harwich are taking steps they hope will allow the town to receive grants and incentives under the state’s Green Communities initiative. 

When she worked for the town of Truro, Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh helped the town qualify for a grant of $125,000.  She thinks Harwich could earn a grant of between $140,000 and $150,000, plus be able to apply for further grants.

One of the criterion is setting aside a place where renewable energy projects can be built without special permitting. 

Greenhalgh said there is a parcel of land which is next to an existing solar project that could be used for just such a purpose.  

“We looked at the area just to the west and north of the existing site and we actually came up with just under nine acres that could potentially be used for the future creation of a solar farm.”  

An expanded solar farm could be permitted through an expedited process. 

Another criterion is the reduction of energy use by town departments by 20%, but Greenalgh said there could be a potential stumbling block.  “A large chunk of our energy uses is shown as null, which means it hasn’t been dedicated to specific departments.  We know which departments pay that bill, we just need to put it into the right pocket,” she said.

Unfortunately for the town, they cannot choose a baseline prior to 2014, when they began replacing older streetlights with energy-efficient ones.  

To fulfill another requirement, town meeting will need to pass a general bylaw amendment adopting the so-called Stretch Code, which seeks to make buildings more energy efficient, but in a more organic manner.  

To become law, the Stretch Code provision will need a simple majority vote at town meeting, where some of the other requirements will also need to be approved.

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