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On April 12, representatives of Wayland, Lincoln and Sudbury joined 14 other communities in the Hopkinton Town Hall to learn of their selection for the Solarize Massachusetts program.
Solarize Mass encourages the adoption of small scale solar photovaltaic (PV) by deploying a coordinated education, marketing and outreach effort, combined with a tiered pricing structure that provides increased savings as more residences and businesses in the community go solar.
Only the state's 86 Green Communities, of which Wayland is one, were eligible to apply. Patrick Cloney, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) chief executive officer, said that Green Community Act grant money has already benefited those communities on a municipal level. He said he is pleased that, with Solarize, these communities' hard work will also pay off for private residents and businesses.
“These communities are leading the way in clean energy adoption and we’re pleased to honor them today for their effort to take their energy future into their own hands by investing in local sources of energy,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan made the announcement of the awards. He pointed out how appropriate it was that the venue that day was in Hopkinton, the starting point of the Boston Marathon. He likened the energy revolution to a marathon, not a sprint, that must be run town by town, business by business, home by home.
Solarize has already reached many homes in Wayland. When the call for applications came through in March, Anne Harris of the Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee and Kaat Vander Straeten of Transition Wayland were quick to launch an outreach campaign. They gathered many letters of support from all corners in Wayland, including the unanimous endorsement of the Energy Committee and the Board of Selectmen.
They also asked residents to answer five question in an online Solar Survey (still visible online). After 10 days of promotion in the local press, newsletters and by word of mouth, the Survey garnered at least 370 responses, of which 85 percent indicated interest in more information and 61 percent a willingness to help promote the program.
Partnering with Lincoln and Sudbury offered obvious benefits. Substantial cost savings could be gained from the economy of scale with a collective population of 36,000 among the three towns. The demographics and median incomes of the towns are similar, as are the challenges and opportunities for the Solarize program: leafy canopies and wooded lots, but larger homes and many residences. Residents of our towns also routinely shop, worship, or work out across each other's town borders. Then there was the benefit of doing outreach together and sharing resources and expertise.
“I'm thrilled Wayland residents will be able to explore the possibility of solar PV,” Harris said. "I think many people are excited about solar but are a bit daunted by the process. And with the CEC's guarantee of solar rebates for all eligible participants, cost savings will be much more assured."
“The response is overwhelmingly positive,” Vander Straeten added. “It ranges from 'sign me up!' to 'tell me more.' There are many questions. Is my roof too shady? How much will it cost even after the bulk-discount? What to do in condo situations? The answers will be available soon."
Next up is the request for proposals from installers, the selection of the best fit for the town, and the training of the Solar Coaches (Vander Straeten for Wayland, Jennifer Morris for Lincoln and Rami Alwan for Sudbury). The MassCEC will then give a Solar 101 Presentation to the community, during which many issues will be addressed.
There will be a Solarize table at the “Earth Day is Our Day” event at the Wayland Town Building on April 29, from noon-3 p.m.. A dedicated Solarize website will be set up soon. Visit www.SolarizeMass.com for more information.
There were 13 successful Solarize applications that involved 17 communities: Acton; Arlington; Boston; Hopkinton; Melrose; Mendon; Montague; Newburyport; Palmer; Pittsfield-Lenox; Shirley; Sutton-Millbury; and the local trio, Wayland-Sudbury-Lincoln.