On the evening of Thursday, June 13th, Northampton residents gathered together to meet the company to participate in the Solarize Mass Northampton program that runs through September 30th. Real Goods Solar was selected through a competitive process by a committee made up of MassCEC, DOER, a technical consultant, and three members of the community review team. Company staff introduced themselves and gave a beginner’s overview to the process and the options for going solar. The event also featured a presentation by Elizabeth Youngblood of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), who explained the benefits of Solarize Mass in participating communities.
The goal of Solarize Mass, a partnership between the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the MassCEC, is to simplify the process of going solar, through education and the reduction of installation cost. In addition to Northampton, the current round of Solarize Mass communities includes: Bourne, Brookline, Chelmsford and Carlisle, Lee, Medford, Medway, Newton, and Williamstown.
Youngblood listed several benefits of going solar available throughout the state, including a federal tax incentive worth 30 percent of the total cost of installation, state incentives, and rebates from MassCEC. Through Solarize Mass, Northampton residents can install solar for $0 down by agreeing to a power purchase agreement with the installer.
Youngblood also explained Solarize Mass’ tier pricing system that rewards the entire community by lowering the cost of going solar each time a certain number of contracts are executed. Northampton received the happy news that it has already reached Tier 3 pricing, out of five possible tiers, making installation of a solar electric system 26 percent lower than the statewide average cost at the start of the 2013 Solarize Mass program.
The event worked to answer many community members’ questions: What if you don’t use all of the solar energy your panels collect? With net metering, the energy goes back into the grid and the company credits it to you for your later use. What if your solar panels don’t cover your entire electricity bill? Residents would purchase additional electricity from their utility. What if your solar panels don’t collect enough energy? With a free consultation, the installer can determine whether your house is in a suitable location for solar. In summer, Massachusetts produces as much solar energy as Northern California, and snow and pollen pose no significant threat to energy absorption.
While electricity prices are rising at about 3 percent per year on average in Massachusetts, the cost per watt of solar energy is down to $5 from $10 just five years ago. Those who own their solar PV systems also earn Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, which can then be sold for cash to electricity suppliers under state mandate to purchase for their ratepayers a minimum threshold of renewable power each year. That threshold is raised annually by law. MassCEC and the Green Communities Division plan to select additional cities and towns for another round of Solarize Mass later this year. For more info on how your community can participate in Solarize Mass, visit solarizemass.com.
Fish Need Clean Energy, Too posted on Feb 18
Running a fish farm is an intense operation, one that requires a lot of labor and a large amount of energy. Currently, the McLaughlin Hatchery uses a significant amount of oil to heat its facility. The facility is going to replace its oil furnace with a renewable energy heating system, a new high efficiency wood pellet boiler and pellet storage silo that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 92 percent, save an estimated $11,432 annually, and reduce annual oil use by more than 5,000 gallons.
Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs posted on Feb 12
Did you know that it is possible to heat buildings in the northeast using wood biomass, a renewable energy fuel? With nearly one-third of total energy costs going toward heating our buildings, it is no wonder that Massachusetts school districts are searching for cheaper and …Continue Reading Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs
Natural Wildlife Setting Enhanced by New Zero Net Energy Building posted on Feb 6
Constructing a commercial zero net energy building (ZNEB) is no easy task, especially one that is 45,000 square feet and sits in Massachusetts where the winters are cold and summers often hot and humid. This is why over 100 people gathered enthusiastically in December in …Continue Reading Natural Wildlife Setting Enhanced by New Zero Net Energy Building