State energy officials today announced the selection of the first five communities to participate in Solarize Mass for 2016. The new municipalities participating in the community-based solar energy group-buying program that lowers overall costs of installing solar electric systems include Somerville and Natick, as well as Shelburne, Colrain and Conway, which have joined as a trio of partner communities.
“Programs like Solarize Mass make solar electricity more affordable for residents and businesses across the Commonwealth, while helping Massachusetts diversify its energy portfolio,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to working with municipalities to reduce our carbon footprint and reach our goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar by 2020.”
A partnership between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and local communities, Solarize Mass reduces the overall cost of solar in communities across the state, helping residents save as much as 20 percent on solar pricing (compared to the statewide average). Through a competitive bidding process, communities select designated Solarize Mass installers that feature the most attractive pricing, outreach and community education packages.
“DOER is proud to work with these communities on this initiative as they increase local clean energy options while reducing the costs of solar adoption,” said DOER Commissioner Judith Judson.
“Solarize Mass is an effective way to help Massachusetts residents receive competitive pricing for solar and learn about its economic and environmental benefits,” said MassCEC Interim CEO Stephen Pike.
As these five communities begin the program, DOER and MassCEC also announced that the communities of Plainfield, Ashfield and Buckland have signed contracts for 116 solar electric systems under Solarize Mass.
Plainfield was responsible for 31 contracts, Ashfield was responsible for 43 contracts and Buckland was responsible for 42 contracts. The contracted solar systems will have a capacity of 858 kilowatts. Each of the three towns more than doubled the number of solar electric systems in their communities during the program.
Since its launch in 2011, 51 cities and towns have participated in Solarize Mass, which has led to the contracting of more than 2,600 new small-scale installations at homes and businesses resulting in 18 megawatts of contracted solar capacity. To date, systems installed under Solarize Mass have reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 1,500 cars off the road annually.
Massachusetts currently has 985 megawatts of solar capacity installed statewide, more than halfway to the Commonwealth’s goal of 1,600 megawatts installed by 2020 and enough to power more than 150,000 homes.
MassCEC and DOER are currently accepting applications from communities interested in participating in the 2016 round of the Solarize Mass program. More information on the application process can be found here.
“Our Commonwealth continues its march toward a clean energy future,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “I am pleased that the residents of these communities are helping to lead the way.”
“Natick has a strong record in clean energy innovation, and this program will help our community continue to expand solar power at a lower cost,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “We need to do all that we can to protect our environment and encourage the use of renewable energy sources.”
"Western Mass continues to lead the way on clean energy” said Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). “It's great to see Shelburne, Conway and Colrain follow the great work of Plainfield, Ashfield and Buckland. Solar is working in Massachusetts and these communities are the proof."
“We need to expand access to renewable energy,” said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “As someone who has had solar panels on their house for a long time, I’m thrilled that Somerville will have the opportunity to continue increasing the usage of energy efficient technology, benefiting our community and our environment.”
“I was pleased to learn that Natick was selected to participate in Solarize Mass for 2016,” said State Representative David Linsky (D-Natick). “Natick is known as the Home of Champions not only for its championship athletic teams, but also for its commitment to solar and other clean energy initiatives. I am looking forward to working with MassCEC, DOER, the Baker Administration and the Town of Natick to ensure that we continue our work for cleaner, more efficient energy in our community.”
"Multi-town Solarize projects have proven highly successful in small rural communities, and I commend Shelburne, Conway, and Colrain on their collaboration and approval of their program,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “Their efforts will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and increase the cost effectiveness of renewable solar energy in our communities. I thank MassCEC and DOER for recognizing the value of these grass-roots efforts in western Massachusetts."
"By joining Solarize Mass, Somerville is continuing its strong commitment to clean technology and environmental justice,” said State Representative Timothy Toomey (D-Cambridge). Improving community access to solar power gives our residents more opportunities to save money on reduced energy costs and cut their carbon footprint."
“Somerville has made tremendous progress toward our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and in particular we strive to be a leader in solar energy,” said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. “As more of our residents and businesses seek opportunities to bring solar energy to their properties, we are excited to bring Solarize Mass to our urban community, and we thank Governor Baker, Secretary Beaton, DOER and MassCEC for affording our constituents this tremendous opportunity to continue toward our goal.”
"Solar offers a reliable, sustainable and local source of energy generation and the Town of Natick is excited to increase adoption of residential PV through the 2016 Solarize Mass program,” said Jillian Wilson-Martin, sustainability coordinator for the Town of Natick. “We are eager to learn from the Solarize communities that have gone before us and look forward to being part of the Commonwealth's sustainable energy solution."
"We are very excited to be officially recognized as the Shelburne Colrain Conway Solarize Project and grateful to MassCEC and DOER for accepting our application,” said Andrew Baker of the Town of Shelburne. “Dozens of households in our towns have already expressed interest in participating in a group purchasing program for solar pv installations at their homes or businesses. West County residents will be producing more clean and green electricity a year from now with the help of the Solarize Mass program."
“The tremendous team of energy committees and volunteers from the three Solarize Plainfield-Ashfield-Buckland towns resulted in 6.6 percent of the households getting solar photovoltaics, the second highest in Solarize Massachusetts as a percentage of homes – only Wellfleet with 10.2 percent did better," said Tim Walter, the volunteer Plainfield solar coach.