State officials this morning presented more than $284,000 in grants to fund clean energy projects for the towns of Tisbury and West Tisbury through the Green Communities Act.

Appearing on the Agricultural Fair’s central stage, Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia said, “It is an absolutely pleasure to be here to join the Agricultural Society and the towns of Tisbury and West Tisbury to celebrate two of our newest designated green communities.”

The green communities designation and grant program empowers towns to adopt renewable energy bylaws and cut overall energy use. In addition to the grants, each town received a certificate from the commonwealth and four road signs identifying the towns as green communities. Commissioner Sylvia said Tisbury and West Tisbury joined 15 other Massachusetts towns in bringing the total of green communities to more than 100.

Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Rick Sullivan said the large number of communities is not only significant but surprising.

“When we first started a couple years ago, we though we would have about 10 communities a year,” he said in an interview before the presentation. “It has been growing very fast. Now take the population of 103 communities and you have just under 50 per cent of the population of the commonwealth living in green communities.”

He emphasized the importance of Vineyard citizens taking part in their local government decisions.

“With all due respect to my colleagues, I think the most important decisions are the ones that are made on the local level,” Secretary Sullivan said, “because the residents obviously know and understand their community better than anybody else. They get the education, discuss and debate the issues and then vote, whether that is in a town meeting or at the board of selectmen ... I want to thank the citizens of Tisbury and West Tisbury for their hard work.”

State Rep. Tim Madden also gave his congratulations to the towns.

“To have the commissioner and the secretary on the Island at the same for the fair is truly a treat,” said Mr. Madden. “This is the best fair in the commonwealth.

“But really we are here [because of] these two communities. It’s no small undertaking. Only a handful of towns have received this recognition in our district, and to do it is a lot of hard work ... I’m here to applaud the towns of Tisbury and West Tisbury.”