June 30 concluded round two of the 2013-2014 Solarize Mass programs, and the results were a major win for small solar projects. A partnership between MassCEC, the Department of Energy Resources’ Green Communities Division, and cities and towns across the Commonwealth, the program began in 2011 and was designed to educate communities on the benefits of solar and make small scale solar more affordable.
The results of the 2013-2014 two rounds managed to surpass numbers from the previous two years. Close to 1,500 contracts were signed and a total of nearly 10 megawatts of solar installed. During 2013’s first round, ten communities participated, and for the second round that ended this past June, another fifteen communities were chosen. The second round of the program yielded particularly impressive numbers. Between the months of December 2013 and June 2014, 932 contracts were signed and over 6 megawatts of solar electric energy were installed. You can view full results of the most recent Solarize Mass rounds here.
The original 2011-2012 Solarize Mass proved the success of the model; more than 6,000 individuals voiced interest in pursuing solar, and over 960 residents and businesses owners in the twenty-one participating communities signed contracts for solar installations. The end result was nearly 6 megawatts of new solar electricity.
Any community in the Commonwealth interested in adopting more solar energy could apply for the program. The design is simple: there a five-tiered pricing structure to lower solar installation costs combined with a grassroots educational campaign run primarily by volunteers that provides marketing and outreach about going solar. Each community chosen to participate selects a solar installation company, and the more home and business owners that sign contracts for solar, the higher the savings for all participants.
The selection process to participate in the program was competitive. Communities had to articulate plans to increase outreach around solar photovoltaics (PV), and were most competitive if they shared ideas on how to streamline the permitting process for small scale solar PV and had experience with solar PV installations . All communities had to be served by an investor-owned electric utility (NSTAR, National Grid, WMECO, Unitil) or a municipal utility that pays into the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. Communities that had previously participated in the program could not apply.
To be eligible, solar projects had to be:
- 15 kilowatts in capacity or lower
- located at residential, commercial or other private sites
- compliant with the same regulations outlined in the Solar Carve-Out II Program
Participants could either purchase the systems directly, or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement.
Undersecretary for Energy Mark Sylvia put it best: “Solarize Mass results have proven that the program is an effective model for bringing clean, cost-saving energy to residents and participating communities.”
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