WILLIAMSTOWN -- State officials say the town is tied with Northampton for having the highest number of signed contracts in the state's Solarize Massachusetts program.
In an email sent Thursday, the town's Solar Coach Jake Laughner said contractor Real Goods Solar had completed 16 signed contracts for solar installations and 74 free site assessments.
"We are on track to more than double Williamstown's total residential-scale solar [photovoltaic] generating capacity through the Solarize program this summer," he said.
Ten other cities and towns were selected to participate in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (CEC) three-year-old program, which brings contractors and residents together to facilitate residential solar projects, and features a tiered pricing structure and group buying power.
The Williamstown Carbon Dioxide Lowering (COOL) Committee helped coordinate the town's application. Members then selected Laughner to organize community outreach and act as a liaison between Real Goods Solar and residents.
Matt Kakley, representative of the state's Clean Energy Center (CEC), said Lee, Medway, Northampton and Williamstown have all reached tier four, meaning they've contracted between 150 and 250 kilowatts (kw), he said. Tier five is 250 kw and above.
"Statewide there have been 55 contracts signed, with an expected 550 kw contracted," Kakley said.
The 17 communities that participated in last year's program created 4.8 megawatts of solar energy, Kakley said.
According to data from the CEC, the city of Arlington had the highest contracted capacity at 718.3 kw and 157 contracts signed. Millbury had the lowest at 43 kw and seven contracts signed.
Laughner said the program can change people's perception of solar energy's affordability.
"Lot's of people who assumed that solar was too expensive, or that they might not have a good enough site, are learning that the economics have changed and strongly favor going solar right now," he said.
The program features a tiered pricing system where residents can choose from different ownership models. An owner can opt to purchase a system outright or host a system on their roof or property. In the latter arrangement, the owner enters a power purchase agreement (PPA) and agrees to buy power produced by the system at a reduced rate that stays stable for 20 years.
Laughner said the group is continuing to perform outreach, and has about 200 households interested in the program.
For more information about the program, visit coolwilliamstown.org.
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