BEVERLY, MA -- The Sterling Center YMCA in Beverly, MA, is hoping to go green with the help of U.S. Department of Energy federal stimulus funding. The Y is one of 31 organizations in Massachusetts that applied for $100 million in federal funding through the state’s Department of Energy Resources.

The Y hopes to use the federal money to invest in a cogeneration (combined heat and power) system, Chris Lovasco, the Y’s chief operations officer, told The Salem News. The YMCA applied for a $300,000 grant to cover the cost of the cogeneration system.

Cogeneration systems use natural gas to produce energy and heat water. Excess heat generated by the system can be stored as hot water and used as electricity.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to go after … because between the pool, open spaces like the gym and the size of the facility itself, it takes some work to keep the Sterling Center warm during the winter,” Lovasco told the newspaper.

Some $32.3 million was requested for 28 organizations that sought funding to invest in cogeneration, including the University of Massachusetts and the Hyannis Youth and Community Center.

The project is part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan. According to a release from the governor’s office: “Under terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), projects eligible for funding under The Clean Energy & Industrial Efficiency Program must be ‘shovel ready’ within 120 days of receiving federal funding and include job creation and/or retention and energy benefits. Federal funding will pay 50 percent of the total cost of projects that are approved for funding by the DOE.”

In addition, combined heat and power systems are supported by a Massachusetts Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS) that took effect in January. It requires utilities and other suppliers of electricity to buy power from APS-approved sources at a rate of 0.75 percent of sales in 2009, which increases to 5 percent by 2010.

“We are hopeful that the Department of Energy will look favorably on these projects, which promise to lower the bottom line for Bay State companies and cities and towns through investment in innovative energy technology and expanded energy efficiency,” Patrick said in a statement.