Local municipalities did their part to help the state retain its number one position in the nation for energy efficiency, in an annual ranking given by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Over the past 20 months, Unitil completed 25 municipal energy-efficiency projects -- from lighting to heating -- for the cities of Fitchburg and Gardner, as well as the towns of Ashby, Lunenburg and Townsend.

According to John DiNapoli, municipal and community manager for Unitil, the projects will collectively save municipalities more than $15 million in energy over the life of the new equipment -- anticipated to be about 13 years.

The 25 projects cost about $1.6 million, but Unitil provided $882,291 in rebates, which helps reduce the payback period on the new equipment.

"It has been a great partnership, working with the cities and the towns," said DiNapoli. "These projects help improve the comfort for residents who use the facilities and also help bring down the cost of heating and lighting."

The energy-efficiency improvements included: new boilers for Fitchburg High School; new lighting for the Ashby Historical Society, Ashby Town Hall, Fitchburg Library, Fitchburg DPW, Lunenburg DPW, and many of the schools -- Ashby Elementary School, North Middlesex Regional Schools in Townsend, Lunenburg's Passios School and four schools in Fitchburg.


Helen Mae Sauter School in Gardner also received new boilers, as well as the Reingold and Memorial schools in Fitchburg.

DiNapoli said that, in addition to helping municipalities, the utility company also provides numerous energy-efficiency incentives to businesses and homeowners. "The rebates are designed to encourage replacing old and inefficient boilers, appliances and lighting with high-efficiency equipment."

Much of the credit for the state's ranking for energy efficiency is given to the state's Green Communities Act, which encourages businesses, residents and utilities to promote energy efficiency. ACEEE ranks the states based on their energy-efficiency programs and policy as well as other factors.