Two Berkshire communities are participating in a statewide effort to expand the use of solar energy in private homes and small businesses. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to expand small-scale solar projects throughout the state with in its Solarize Massachusetts program.
Pittsfield and Lenox, two designated Green Communities, will be holding community forums to educate the public about solar energy and the Solarize Mass program.
Nate Joyner, Solar Coach for the City of Pittsfield, says that the program will provide participants with a discounted price on installing solar panels on their property.
The program is open to all residents of Pittsfield and Lenox. Joyner said that the maximum size of each installation is a 15 kilowatt system – about 3 times the size of the average project in Massachusetts.
Joyner says that Lenox and Pittsfield will work with company Astrum Solar Inc. to help residents determine their solar plan based on their needs.
Michelle Waldgeir from Astrum Solar says that the program will have a big impact on the Berkshires, an area she said is underutilized in small-scale solar energy production.
Waldgeir also mentioned that interest in the program is high, even before the first community forum has taken place.
Adele Gravitz, Sustainability Coordinator for the town of Lenox, says she is hoping program will have impacts in other communities as well.
Gravitz added that as part of the Massachusetts Green Communities program, Lenox is able to provide up to two-thousand dollar grants to qualified residents looking to upgrade to a solar home energy or hot water system. She also added that the efforts of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the state to make solar energy more affordable could provide an economic boost.
In Lenox, a Solarize Mass presentation will be held Monday, July 16th from 7 to 9 pm at Lenox Town Hall, and in Pittsfield, a presentation is scheduled for next Monday, July 23rd from 7 to 9 pm at Pittsfield City Hall.