Harvard – Friday, June 27, 2014 – State and local officials today celebrated the opening of the Harvard Solar Garden, which allows residents and small business owners whose properties are not good candidates for solar to plug into a community-owned solar project. The innovative model expands access to the environmental and economic benefits of solar to community members.
“The Harvard Solar Garden proves what can happen when partners at the state and local levels come together to solve a challenge – in this case allowing all residents and business owners to access the benefits of solar energy,” said Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Energy Undersecretary Barbara Kates-Garnick.
The Harvard Solar Garden arose out of the town’s participation in the first round of the Solarize Mass program, which is a partnership between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), solar installers, local government officials and dedicated volunteers in communities across the Commonwealth.
The program, which has led to the contracting of more than 1,500 solar electric systems since 2011, looks to increase the adoption of solar through a grassroots outreach campaign and a tiered pricing model, in which the savings increase for everyone as more contracts are signed.
Through the course of the town’s participation in Solarize Mass, several residents and business owners found they were unable to have solar electric systems installed on their properties due to poor site conditions, such as shading or roof orientation.
Undeterred, the residents worked with partners at the state and local level to create a framework wherein residents and small business owners would be able to own a portion of a large solar electric system, receiving the same benefits, incentives and rebates they would if the system was on their own roof. The project is one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
“I was happy to file this home rule petition, passed at Town Meeting, and am pleased that the Joint Committee on Revenue acted so quickly in reporting the bill out favorably,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge. “I have great affection for the persistence of the founding members of the Harvard Community Solar Garden, and their commitment to ensuring that more residents can choose to power their homes with solar power, and not fossil fuels.”
“I was proud to join the Harvard Solar Garden community to celebrate their opening ceremony. The residents of Harvard and surrounding communities have worked for over two years to make the dream of a community shared solar project a reality,” said Representative Jennifer Benson. “When residents and business owners were faced with property limitations, they took on the challenge, and were determined to succeed. The level of teamwork on the local and state level was remarkable. I am certain that the Harvard Solar Garden’s community solar project will stand as a model for other communities across the Commonwealth and nation.”
The Harvard Solar Garden, which was designed and constructed by Harvard-based Solar Design Associates, is a 294-kilowatt solar electric system that is jointly-owned by four small businesses and 43 residents who live in Harvard, Bolton, Northampton, Florence, Belchertown, Billerica, and Worcester.
Created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. Since its inception in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) develops and implements policies and programs aimed at ensuring the adequacy, security, diversity, and cost-effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s energy supply within the context of creating a cleaner energy future. DOER is an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Follow Secretary Bartlett on Twitter……………………..twitter.com/massEEA
View videos on You Tube………………………………….www.youtube.com/MassEEA
View downloadable photographs on Flickr:................. www.flickr.com/photos/masseea/sets/
Visit the Energy Smarts blog:.................................... www.mass.gov/blog/energy
Visit The Great Outdoors blog:….………………………..www.mass.gov/blog/environment
Visit our website:....................................................... www.mass.gov/eea
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900, Boston, MA 02114-2119 — (617) 626-1000 office / (617) 626 1181 (fax)