Massachusetts Urges Solar Through Education
In April, 2007 Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick laid out a 10-year goal for the commonwealth to adopt 250 megawatts worth of solar power installations by 2017. With just under 6 years remaining until the deadline, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has announced it is deploying a business model they call Solarize Massachusetts. The model’s aim is to encourage residents and business owners to adopt solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and it will begin with four pilot communities that include Harvard, Hatfield, Scituate and Winchester.
According to MassCEC, its plan is to educate the communities about solar power systems in hopes that it will drive interest in adopting the technology. The organization plans to do this by providing free solar education and technical support organized within the four pilot communities. Ultimately, MassCEC would like to see implementation of community-wide solar programs for both residential and small-scale commercial projects.
MassCEC says it has issued formal requests for bulk purchasing proposals from solar integrators whereby installation costs would be based on a tiered structure that provides both lower prices and increased solar energy capacity. MassCEC intends to partner with these integrators to provide the aforementioned education as well as free solar assessments, financing options and installation services for each of the pilot areas.
Solar adoption in Massachusetts was a little slow to pick up initially. However, in 2008 the commonwealth launched solar rebate programs to augment funds that came available via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That kicked solar interest up a few notches and solar installations increased 20-fold between 2007 and 2010. Presently, there are almost 45 megawatts of solar energy installed in Massachusetts, and an additional 40 megawatts contracted for installation.
Those numbers are up from the 3.5 megawatt statistic that greeted Governor Patrick when he took office in January 2007. Apparently those rebate programs helped boost the Massachusetts solar industry. According to a MassCEC survey of clean energy companies, employment in solar manufacturing, installation, and services has more than doubled since the governor first took office, and solar manufacturing jobs alone have close to tripled from 2007 to 2010.