At a press conference in early December at Atkins Farms in Amherst, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan announced the fifteen communities that will participate in the second round of the 2013 Solarize Massachusetts program (Solarize Mass®). The program’s administrators, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and DOER’s Green Communities Division , designed the program to increase the adoption of small scale solar energy across the state, while reducing the overall cost of solar electric power and offering residents and businesses discounted pricing for solar systems. Solarize Mass lowers energy costs by offering residents and businesses a five-tiered pricing structure, where the savings increase as more people sign contracts.
MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton was the first to speak at the press conference, followed by Harold Gould, the owner of Atkins Farms. Secretary Sullivan then introduced the fifteen communities chosen for the fourth iteration of Solarize Mass: Adams, Amherst, Andover, Bedford, Chesterfield, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lexington, Needham, Salem, Swampscott, Watertown, Wellfleet, Whately and Williamsburg. Great Barrington will be partnering with Egremont; Salem will partner with Swampscott; Lexington with Bedford; and Williamsburg, Whately and Chesterfield will work as a group.
Ten of the communities participating in this round (Amherst, Andover, Bedford, Chesterfield, Great Barrington, Lexington, Salem, Swampscott, Watertown and Whatley) are Green Communities, a designation made by DOER to cities and towns that meet five clean energy requirements, including a commitment to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years, and adoption of a streamlined process for responsible siting of renewable energy such as solar photovoltaics (PV).
DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia highlighted the fact that the 361 MW of solar PV installed so far in Massachusetts has more than met Governor Patricks’s goal of 250 MW by 2017, and he exhorted communities to do their best to meet the Governor’s new goal of 1,600 MW of solar PV by 2020. “Solarize Mass results have proven that the program is an effective model for bringing clean, cost-saving energy to residents and businesses in participating communities. I congratulate these fifteen communities and look forward to continuing our support for all communities in the Commonwealth as they pursue renewable energy,” he said.
Massachusetts as a whole has been doing remarkably well promoting solar energy and the Solarize Mass program has been instrumental in that. There have been 1,250-plus solar installations through the program since 2011, adding up to over 9 MW of solar energy. Massachusetts is in the top 10 states nationally for solar and there are over 8,400 jobs directly related to solar energy in Massachusetts – of a total 80,000 clean energy jobs. As Secretary Sullivan pointed out, it’s “not just investment in solar, it’s an investment in people and localities . . . the best and most important decisions are the ones made at the local level.”
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