WILLIAMSTOWN - The town has reached the fifth pricing tier - an accomplishment given the town's size - in a state program aimed at increasing the number of solar installations.
"Williamstown, for the size of its population, has done extremely well," the town's solar coach Jake Laughner said on Friday. "Right now we have 41 signed contracts and 254 kW in contracted capacity."
Williamstown joined 10 other cities and towns to participate in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (CEC) three-year-old program, which brings contractors and residents together to create solar projects, and features a tiered pricing structure and group buying power.
The town is one of four in the state that has reached tier five pricing, Laugher said.
"At every pricing tier, it creates another level of discount for the ultimate price people are going to pay for the system," Laughner explained. "So many people have come in that everyone [in town] gets the biggest discount available."
The Williamstown Carbon Dioxide Lowering (COOL) Committee helped coordinate the town's application and selected Real Goods Solar as the installer. Members then selected Laughner to organize community outreach and act as a laison between the installer and residents.
According to figures from the CEC website, the town is in second place for the most contracts signed. Lee is in fourth with 23 signed contracts. Northampton has the highest, with 57 contracts.
Just over 200 contracts have been signed statewide for a total of 1,500 kW in solar electricity.
The program features various ownership models- residents can choose to purchase a system outright, or sign up for a power purchase agreement (PPA), he explained.
Under a PPA, a homeowner can host a system at no cost and agrees to buy power produced by the system at a reduced rate that stays stable for 20 years.
"If you want to pay a little bit of money up front, you could get a lower rate locked in," he said. A homeowner who invests $3,000 up front could get electricity at roughly half the rate they pay now, he added.
The first home installation is scheduled to take place at the beginning of next week, Laughner said, and an open house is being planned for later this month, right before the program ends.
Laughner said organizers had scaled back recruiting more residents as they process people who have already signed up for site assessments. "The people we want to draw in to the open house are people who might be sitting on proposals and can just benefit from seeing how the installation works, and getting the homeowners report," he said. "That might just give them a little nudge."
For more information about the program, visit coolwilliamstown.org.