Holyoke, MA — A coalition comprised of the City of Holyoke, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts and the Conservation Law Foundation are launching a planning initiative that aims to completely transition Holyoke's buildings and energy grid away from fossil fuels.
(City of Holyoke Press Release)
The effort is made possible thanks to generous grant funding from the Barr Foundation, which earlier this month awarded the City of Holyoke with $275,000 and Neighbor to Neighbor with $125,000. The funding will cover costs related to project management, technical consulting, resident engagement and capacity building, and will provide additional technical support to the Holyoke Gas & Electric. Additionally, the Conservation Law Foundation will be contributing its time and resources to the coalition to enhance stakeholder engagement and help in the design of energy policies and approaches.
“On Earth Day this year, I spoke of the need for bold, collective action at the local level to confront our climate crisis and build a green economy. Over the past few months we’ve been building partnerships to launch an initiative that will allow Holyoke to lead the way in a world remade and powered by renewable energy, while serving as a model for cities around the country” said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. “I am grateful to the Barr Foundation for their funding support and thrilled to work with Neighbor to Neighbor and the Conservation Law Foundation as institutional partners in this endeavor.”
"We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for giving us the opportunity to make a grand shift in Holyoke's energy future” added Elvis Méndez, Organizing Director for Neighbor to Neighbor. “Neighbor to Neighbor is ready and excited to work with the City of Holyoke to ensure that this transition is equitable and centers the community residents of Holyoke in the process."
“Holyoke is such an exciting example of what’s possible when City leaders, community groups, and residents work together to seize the opportunity of clean energy,” said Mariella Puerto, Barr Foundation Co-Director of Climate. “The city now hosts one of the largest solar and energy storage facilities in the Commonwealth – where a coal-fired power plant once stood. The Barr Foundation is pleased to support this next phase in Holyoke’s efforts to achieve a prosperous and resilient community, free of fossil fuels.”
“With the climate crisis upon us, it’s imperative that we break our addiction to fossil fuels,” said CLF President Brad Campbell. "Holyoke’s bold action to ditch dirty fossil fuels and build the community’s future around clean energy sets the standard for cities and towns across New England to follow.”
In addition to the project partners, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has also pledged no-cost technical assistance to the Holyoke Gas & Electric to support initial analytical work by the municipal utility company. “RMI is excited to be working with the ambitious and talented team at HG&E,” said Bruce Nilles, Managing Director at RMI. “They are offering a bold and sustainable vision that can both help residents of Holyoke see a brighter and cleaner future, as well as inspire other cities to learn from their experiences.”
“Holyoke Gas & Electric is committed to providing the highest quality service and energy to our customers,” said Kate Sullivan Craven, HG&E’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “We are proud of our continuous record of innovation when it comes to clean energy and are looking forward to working with the Rocky Mountain Institute to further those initiatives.”
“Completing this work comes with great economic opportunity, whether it's outfitting our building stock with modern heating systems, more energy-efficient envelopes or being at the cutting edge of clean energy technology,” said Marcos Marrero, the City’s Director of Planning & Economic Development. “We’re grateful to have such experienced partners to work with shoulder-to-shoulder in laying the path towards a clean energy future.”
The planning effort is set to begin early in 2020 by developing a project governance structure that includes a cross-section of community members and government officials, preparation for public engagement actions, and aggregating technical data.
The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr works to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and help all young people succeed in learning, work, and life. The Foundation’s Clean Energy efforts aim to accelerate a massive scale-up of renewables and energy efficiency across the Northeast. For more information, visit www.barrfoundation.org.
Neighbor to Neighbor of Massachusetts (N2N) is a grassroots peoples organization made up of people of color, immigrants, women, and the working class, organizing to put people and the planet before profit. N2N seeks to build capacity and community power to transform the institutions that govern our lives. In an era of income inequality, environmental degradation, and racism, N2N chapters are building the power to confront this triple crisis in Massachusetts. N2N seeds new alternatives that put power and decision-making in the hands of those directly affected. For more information, visit https://www.n2nma.org/
Contact: Elvis Méndez, Organizing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
& Andrea Nyamekye, Campaign, and Policy Director email@example.com
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. We use the law, science, and the market to create solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant regional economy. CLF’s approach to environmental advocacy is distinguished by our close involvement with local communities; our ability to design and implement effective strategies; and our capacity for developing innovative and economically sound solutions to our region’s most critical environmental challenges. For more information, visit https://www.clf.org/
Contact: Jake O’Neill, Press Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)’s mission is to transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. RMI engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI is helping cities, communities, states, and regions meet their energy and climate goals, boost economic growth, and achieve the goals set out in the Paris Accord. For more information, visit https://rmi.org/
Contact: Bruce Niles, Managing Director, email@example.com
The Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) is a municipally-owned utility company which provides electric, natural gas and telecom solutions to residential and business customers in Holyoke and Southampton. The HG&E boasts an electric portfolio composed of over 50% renewable energy sources, and that is about 85% carbon-free. The utility continues to expand its renewable energy portfolio while maintaining some of the lowest electric rates in Massachusetts and New England. For more information, visit https://www.hged.com/
Contact: Kate Sullivan Craven, Director of Marketing and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org