|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD Homeowners in the Bay State have been urged for years to weatherize their houses to save money and now the state is taking that advice.
Under the Accelerated Energy Program, the Commonwealth will make improvements to 700 state sites which include 4,000 buildings with the goal of reducing energy costs between 20 and 25 percent. The improvements are slated to be finished in the next two years.
According to Glen Shor, the secretary of Administration and Finance, the new program will employ up to 4,000 people and should save $43 million annually.
Shor was among the state officials who gathered at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) on Jan. 15 to announce the program. Shor called this program part of Gov. Deval Patrick's "unwavering priority" to save taxpayers money and increase job opportunities.
Commissioner Carole Cornelison of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance explained that she was asked by former Secretary of Administration and Finances Jay Gonzalez a year ago to devise a plan to make every state building energy efficient.
She said at STCC that means "completely replacing an antiquated heating and cooling system."
Richard Sullivan, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs said the programs would enable the state to meet "our generational responsibilities across the secretariats."
Sullivan said the cost for the program is $400 million and the savings from its initiatives will be used to pay off the bond for the construction. Most of the work is expected to be completed by end of 2014, although some sites might require more time.
In the greater Springfield area, some of the sites that will see improvements include both Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University. Courthouses such as Chicopee District Court and the court complex in Springfield are also on the list. State operated pools, such as those in Agawam and South Hadley and the Holyoke Soldiers' Home will also be improved.
Sullivan said the state is ranked first in the nation for energy savings and the new program has attracted interest from other states.
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