NSTAR and the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts, have partnered with two non-profit organizations to pilot a groundbreaking community-based project promoting energy efficiency and green-sector jobs. By leveraging the expertise of the Marion Institute’s Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative and the training provided by the local YouthBuild program, the new Community Mobilization Initiative (CMI) pilot combines the benefits of NSTAR’s residential energy audits with job opportunities for inner-city residents and young adults.

“We're always looking for new ways to get more customers involved in our energy efficiency programs,” said Penni Conner, NSTAR’s vice president of Customer Care. “This exciting initiative will help us do just that – while also creating green jobs right in our service territory. We look forward to continuing our work with the City of New Bedford, the Marion Institute and YouthBuild to ensure the success of this project.”

The focus of the CMI pilot in New Bedford is to test the effectiveness of using a local workforce in a person-to-person approach to introduce city residents to NSTAR’s free energy audits. The ultimate goal is to increase participation in the audit program, creating demand for weatherization work that will then be performed by trained local contractors. NSTAR will use the information gathered through this pilot to determine the feasibility of adopting similar outreach initiatives across its service area.

“The country’s long term strategic energy program is based upon conservation and energy efficiency,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang of New Bedford. “This program meets both of these objectives and puts our young people on a career path which leads to many different profitable and satisfying skills and professions. Creating jobs and developing energy sustainability and independence is the most important objective that we will achieve in the 21st century.”

“New Bedford's Community Mobilization Initiative is just the kind of outside-the-box innovation intended by the nation-leading three-year energy efficiency plans approved earlier this year,” said DOER Commissioner Phil Giudice. “The initiative aligns with Governor Patrick's agenda for energy savings and green jobs. On behalf of the administration, I congratulate NSTAR, its partners, and the city of New Bedford for making this happen.”

“Through the Commonwealth’s new procurement approach to energy efficiency, we are able to explore innovative solutions for delivering real energy savings to our citizens,” said Danah Tench, staff attorney at ENE (Environment Northeast). “ENE applauds the City of New Bedford, NSTAR and the Marion Institute for seizing the opportunity to bring an innovative, community-based approach to New Bedford consumers, expanding access to cost-saving, energy saving programs, while creating a path to good jobs in our new green economy.”

A team of Community Mobilization Leaders, hired from the New Bedford community and trained by the Marion Institute’s Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative, are conducting person-to-person outreach to build interest in the energy audit program. Conservation Services Group, NSTAR’s statewide audit contractor, schedules appointments and performs the initial home assessments to provide residents with valuable energy efficiency information. Included is a determination of whether or not the home would benefit from additional weatherization measures, such as free air-sealing or financial incentives for adding insulation.

The YouthBuild program, run locally by P.A.C.E., then provides the contractors who perform the recommended weatherization measures including blown-in insulation and air-leak sealing. The YouthBuild crews are comprised of inner-city young adults who have met strict statewide training requirements to ensure quality workmanship.