As part of the effort to reach Governor Patrick's goal of 250 megawatts (MW) of solar power installed by 2017, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) today announced that it will deploy a new business model called Solarize Massachusetts in four pilot communities in Massachusetts to encourage residents and business owners to adopt solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
MassCEC, in partnership with the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has selected the communities of Harvard, Hatfield, Scituate, and Winchester to participate in the model, which leverages education, grassroots marketing, and group purchasing to accelerate the adoption of solar PV.
“The Patrick-Murray Administration has already expanded solar power significantly in Massachusetts through a suite of policies and programs designed to grow the state’s solar business sector and put the cost of solar power within the reach of more people than ever before,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs MassCEC’s board of directors and whose office includes DOER. “Solarize Massachusetts will take these efforts to a new level, catalyzing wider adoption of solar energy and greater energy independence through the power of community connections.”
“Solarize Massachusetts will help us reach Governor Patrick’s solar energy goals and educate the residents of Massachusetts on solar energy,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “By spurring engagement and encouraging neighbor-to-neighbor advocacy for solar energy education and adoption, we can help communities across Massachusetts become vibrant solar towns.”
Through Solarize Massachusetts, MassCEC will provide education and marketing support to help the four communities implement a community-wide solar PV program for residential and small-scale commercial projects, and deploy a business model to reduce costs. MassCEC will provide technical support and host free educational meetings in the pilot communities to educate people about the benefits of installing solar and to drive interest in implementing the technology.
“It is exciting to pilot this program with four of our Green Communities, who are already leading the way in Massachusetts with their commitments to energy reduction and development of clean energy technologies,” DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia said. “Solarize Massachusetts provides another opportunity for them to further demonstrate their commitment to a cleaner energy future and to expand upon their success with the residents and businesses.”
MassCEC and DOER solicited applications for the pilot program from designated Green Communities and selected at random one community from each region to participate. MassCEC issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for bulk purchasing business models from solar integrators in which installation costs are based on a tiered structure that provide lower costs with increased capacity of solar installed within the community. For each of the pilot communities, MassCEC will partner with integrators to provide education, free solar assessments, different ownership (or financing) models, and installation services.
As a result of the Commonwealth Solar rebate programs launched in 2008 and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for solar on water treatment facilities and other public buildings, Massachusetts saw a 20-fold increase in solar PV installations between 2007 and 2010. Currently, there are nearly 45 MW of solar energy installed in Massachusetts, and an additional 40 MW under contract for installation, up from 3.5 MW when Governor Patrick took office.
Commonwealth Solar rebate programs also helped spur a vibrant solar industry in Massachusetts. According to a MassCEC survey of clean energy companies, employment in solar manufacturing, installation, and services has more than doubled since Governor Patrick first took office, and solar manufacturing jobs alone have close to tripled from 2007 to 2010.