Solarize Campaign Sets Goal for 200 Somerville Property Owners to Commit to Install Solar Panels

Volunteers & City Launch State-Supported Program to Offer Discounted Solar

 

SOMERVILLE – As part of the State’s Solarize Mass program, local volunteers and the City of Somerville recently launched the Solarize Somerville campaign to make it easier and cheaper for residents and small businesses to install solar panels.

 

The program, which is offering information and guidance, free site consultations, and solar panel discounts through November, has set an ambitious goal to inspire at least 200 property owners to sign up for solar —and each of those private solar installations will also benefit the community directly. For every 400 kW in signed private contracts through the program, the program’s solar vendor SolarFlair will donate a system of up to 5 kW for a public or community purpose. All are invited to the program kickoff at a Meet the Installer event on Tuesday, July 26 at 6-7:30 p.m., 167 Holland St. Additional events on topics such as solar basics, financing, and solar for multifamily homes will be announced.

 

Unique to the program is its neighbor-to-neighbor approach: trained resident volunteers and a designated volunteer Solar Coach are available essentially as mentors. They can, for example, walk anyone through the process, provide general loan program and tax incentive information, and share their own solar experiences. The campaign’s webpage and blog offers useful information, tips, and a link to websites where you can estimate the solar potential of your home and roughly calculate how much solar could save you on your energy bills at http://www.somervillema.gov/sustainaville/solarize.

 

“Solar is important not just because it can help reduce electricity bills. If we are going to do our part as a community to reduce the impacts of climate change, those who can must take a serious look at solar. That means the City needs to help our property owners learn about and get access to this important technology. The Solarize Mass initiative offers a path for us to do this, so I hope community members will seize this opportunity to explore their options,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. 

 

Now in its sixth year, the Solarize Mass initiative is a partnership between MassCEC and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Through its hallmark grassroots approach, the program offers training, guidance, and technical support to municipalities and community volunteers including on how to organize bulk purchasing to lower the cost of installing solar for program participants generally by up to 20 percent.

 

Somerville is one of the most urban communities ever to participate in Solarize Mass, which makes the neighbor-to-neighbor approach especially helpful due to some of the unique challenges here such as multi-family houses with more than one owner. Winter Hill resident Mary Mangan, the program’s volunteer Solar Coach, went through that process and is ready to share helpful tips.

 

“I’m excited to work with our eager volunteers to help our neighbors understand the benefits of solar power. As a co-owner of a two-family home with solar, I can also offer some insights about how that process went for us,” said Mangan.

 

Also key to the program is the selection of a designated vendor, which allows the program to offer reduced cost installation through bulk purchasing. Through a competitive process, SolarFlair, based in Ashland, MA, was selected. They were also the selected installer for the communities of Arlington, Hopkinton, Mendon, Brookline, Carlisle-Chelmsford, Newton, and Quincy.

 

“We’re excited to be the selected installer for Solarize Somerville, and look forward to speaking with any home or business owners that are interested in reducing their electric bills while also making a great investment,” said Matt Arner, the owner and President of SolarFlair.

 

Quick facts:

 

· Solar systems can be purchased outright (with a payback of about 4-5 years). The Mass Solar Loan program offers rates of 3.25% or less. 

· Or, for no money down owners can choose a power purchase agreement (PPA), where the system is owned and maintained by a third party, and residents buy back the electricity at a discounted price.   

· More on-site renewable energy is critical to reducing carbon emissions. It also saves money for residents.

· Tax incentives for solar installations include:

o Federal Tax Credit: A 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is available for qualified residential and commercial projects

o Massachusetts Personal Income Tax Credit: The lesser of 15% of the total cost of the solar electric system or $1,000, for qualified clean energy projects

o Five-year Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS): Business owners can depreciate solar electric systems over a five-year schedule

 

For more information or to sign up for a free site consultation:

 

Visit the Solarize Somerville webpage at http://www.somervillema.gov/sustainaville/solarize for

· Helpful information and FAQs

· To contact a volunteer or Solar Coach Mary Mangan to discuss solar options and incentives,

· To set up an appointment for a free site consultation directly with SolarFlair.

· To find out about events

· To volunteer for Solarize Somerville

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