Less than four months since learning of their selection as Solarize Massachusetts grant recipients, Wayland, Sudbury and Lincoln have generated enough contracts to secure the lowest pricing available for the installations.
And there are still nearly two months to sign up to take part.
, in conjunction with Sudbury and Lincoln, to reap the benefits of one of the state's Solarize Massachusetts grants.
Solarize Mass encourages the adoption of small scale solar photovoltaic (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. This is the second year for the program.
A press release from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) said Monday that contracts for 53 separate systems in the three towns had been signed. Those systems represent 484 kilowatts of new capacity and mean that customers taking advantage of the special installation opportunity have crossed into Tier 5 pricing and will pay just $3.70 per watt -- 30 percent less than the average installed cost for small photovaltaic (PV) systems in the Commonwealth.
"There are many reasons why I am so excited about the prospect of seeing so much solar in our towns,” said Kaat Vander Straeten, the Wayland Community Solar Coach, in the CEC press release. “Aside from the environmental benefits, which are substantial, there is also the advantage of greater resilience: a pool of small, local, independent producers of electricity is a lot more resilient than one big, centralized power plant relying on imported fuels. Moreover, people who become producers also become more aware of how much they consume and of the many impacts of their consumption. Hopefully our towns can become models and this new energy landscape won't be extraordinary for long."
As part of the Solarize Mass program, the group of towns selected a single provider -- Astrum Solar -- to handle the installation of all the systems.
Michelle Waldgeir, vice president of marketing at Astrum Solar, said Wayland contracts represent almost 300 kW, while contracts from Lincoln and Sudbury represent about 100 kW each.
Waldgeir credited the town's solar coaches, Vander Staeten for Wayland, Rami Alwan for Sudbury and Jennifer Morris for Lincoln, with working together to spread the word about Solarize Mass and solar energy in general.
"The biggest thing has to do with how much they did prior to this and also how involved your community is," Waldgeir explained. "The questions we get asked about this and the awareness is at a whole different level. It's been phenomenal how well they've worked together as a group."
So far, Astrum Solar has fielded inquiries from more than 400 individuals in the three towns and more than 200 of those people have taken next steps, meaning that Astrum Solar has performed home visits and taken measurements, Waldgeir said.
"They've been spreading the word to all their friends and neighbors and that's how this program works," Waldgeir said. "Basically, the word gets spread from one neighbor to the next and that's what's happening here."
Solarize Mass began as a pilot program in four communities in 2011. Waldgeir said Wayland, Lincoln and Sudbury have already surpassed the number of kilowatts sold in the top adopter town, Harvard, during the 2011 pilot.
"The wealth of all the preparation [advocates in Wayland, Lincoln and Sudbury] had done ... you knew it was going to be something special," Waldgeir said. "Day one, the amount of work they had already done ... I knew it was going to go quickly and I knew they were going to reach Tier 5."
Annually, 484 kW of solar power, the amount already contracted in the three towns, save 380 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, Waldgeir said. Over the lifetime of the solar systems, more than 7,500 metric tons of emissions will be saved -- that's the equivalent of the annual emissions of 1,500 vehicles.
"That’s how much the community is already impacted," Waldgeir said.
Residents in Wayland, Sudbury and Lincoln, as well as the 14 other Green Communities selected as Solarize Mass grant recipients this year, have until Sept. 30 to sign contracts for solar installation under the program.