Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Williamstown pedaling toward 6% goal for green energy

The Williamstown COOL (CO2 Lowering) committee, in partnership with The Mountain Goat, is launching a campaign to sign up 60 new households for green power by March 31 through the New England GreenStart program. If the campaign is successful, Williamstown will have achieved a goal set by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust for having 6% of households signed up for green power, and the town will earn a $3,000 bonus for reaching the goal. This money will be used towards renewable energy projects in town.

As an incentive to sign up and help Williamstown reach its goal, The Mountain Goat has donated a Trek 7100 “hybrid” aluminum-frame bike that can be ridden on the road or on trails. Households that are just signing up for New England GreenStart in Williamstown will be automatically entered into a raffle for the bike. The winner will be drawn on April 14 at a to-be-announced event held as part of “Step It Up 2007”, a nation-wide day of rallies for congressional action to cut carbon emissions.

When residents sign up for New England GreenStart, they pay a premium of 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour on their National Grid electric bill to fund the purchase of energy from renewable sources that matches 100 percent of their electric usage. This premium amounts to approximately $10-12 per month for an average household. For households on a tight budget, there is a 50% option with a smaller premium of 1.25 cents extra per kilowatt-hour. Signing up for green power reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change and keeps air clean by creating new sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass, and low-impact hydroelectric. When renewable energy sources are added, the need for new “dirty” power sources is avoided, and eventually the reliance on fossil fuels may diminish.

“Given that 2006 was the warmest year on record for the continental United States, and the disconcerting weather we are having this winter, many people are pleased that they can sign up for green power and do something tangible to offset carbon emissions. More than 3% of Williamstown residents have already signed up for GreenStart. We are hoping for at least 60 more households to bring us a big monetary bonus to use towards a new renewable energy project in town,” says Williamstown resident Wendy Penner, a member of the COOL Committee. The COOL committee is working to implement the Williamstown Climate Action Plan, which has the goal of reducing Williamstown’s carbon emissions by 10% below 2000 levels by 2010. “The bike donated by the Mountain Goat is a great symbol for the GreenStart campaign” said Penner. “When we ride bikes instead of driving, that is another opportunity to reduce carbon emissions”

For each dollar residents pay toward the GreenStart program, the town of Williamstown earns 57 cents from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust toward renewable energy projects in town. These funds helped pay to install solar panels on Milne Public Library. Currently Williamstown has over $10,000 in funds available toward a renewable energy project and achieving the 6% goal would add $3,000 more to the total. A new renewable energy project for the town has yet to be identified, and the town is open to suggestions.

To sign up for GreenStart, National Grid customers simply fill out a form with contact information and their National Grid account number. Forms are available at The Mountain Goat, Milne Public Library, and Wild Oats Community Market, where the bike will also be on display over the coming months. It is also possible to enroll online at, or by calling 1-800-369-3333. Charges for New England GreenStart will simply appear on the monthly National Grid bill, and there is still just one electric bill to pay. 57% of the premium paid to the GreenStart program is deductible from federal income taxes.

The bike will be on display over the coming months at different locations around town including The Mountain Goat, Milne Public Library, Wild Oats Community Market, and Williamstown Savings Bank.

The Center for Ecological Technology (CET), a non-profit organization based in Pittsfield, is a partner in New England GreenStart and has worked to ensure that the premium households pay has helped support several solar energy projects in the Berkshires, including the Williamstown Elementary School, Williams College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, McCann Technical High School, Conte Community School, Simon’s Rock College and Gould Farm. For more information about GreenStart for all National Grid customers, contact Tomasin Whitaker at the Center for Ecological Technology, at (800) 369-3333 or at

Pictured above are (from left) Wendy Penner, Williamstown COOL committee, Amy Merselis (Mountain Goat owner) and children Charley and Grace, and Ed Joy (Mountain Goat general manager) with daughter Ryle Joy. Photo Christy Palmer.

Contacts: Wendy Penner Williamstown COOL committee 458-4708
The Mountain Goat: Amy Merselis and Ed Joy 458-8445


Post a Comment

<< Home