Melrose Businesses, Residents Qualify For Lower Solar Energy Rates
Melrosians have until Sept. 30 to participate in the bulk buying program, which would secure further price reductions as more participants sign up, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
Melrose businesses and residents qualify for lower solar energy rates than rates for traditional sources of energy under the Solarize Massachusetts Program (Solarize Mass), announced Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) CEO Alicia Barton McDevitt in a press statement.
The average Melrose participant who enters into a bulk buying systems contract to buy solar electricity will pay an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the average statewide price of 15 cents per kilowatt hour for traditional energy sources, which are a mix of coal-fired, nuclear or natural gas generation, according to the statement.
"Consumers are getting solar panels for the roofs of their homes or businesses through the program. There are two ways to (use) the program, either by purchasing the system outright from the solar installer, or signing what is called a power-purchase agreement, under which the installer owns and maintains the equipment and the resident agrees to purchase the electricity at a rate lower than traditional energy sources," said MassCEC spokesman Matt Kakley in an email to Melrose Patch. "These agreements generally run for 20 years, but are negotiable between the resident and the solar installer. The size/capacity of the system will also range, depending on the size of the homeowner’s roof and other factors. The average size system is 5,000 watts, or 5 kW."
Residents and businesses have until Sept. 30 to participate in the bulk buying program, which would secure further price reductions as more participants sign up, read the statement. Kakley noted that the program is intended for those who do not currently have solar panels installed.
"If someone signs up after the Sept. 30 deadline, they will not be eligible for the tiered pricing," Kakley said. "If Melrose gets to the highest tier, a homeowner under Solarize Mass could save 20 (percent) on a 5 kW system relative to the average price of solar at the beginning of the program. If someone waits until after the program has ended, the price for installation would be negotiated between the consumer and the solar installer."
At least three dozen contracts have already been purchased in Melrose, according to Kakley.
"I hope Melrose’s renewable energy leadership will inspire residents in this community and beyond to take advantage of this program that not only cuts energy costs, but creates local jobs," said McDevitt in the statement. Kakley explained that "(t)he jobs are created through the increase in installations and site assessments performed by the solar installer. ...To meet demand for the program, some of the installation companies will need to scale up with additional employees."
During Gov. Deval Patrick's tenure, Massachusetts set a goal of achieving 250 megawatts of solar by 2017, according to the statement. As a result of the Solarize Mass program and other incentives, the state is more than halfway to its goal – with 143 megawatts of solar installed to date, read the statement.
Solarize Mass, which is available in 17 Massachusetts communities including Melrose, offers five tiers of discounted pricing based on the total solar capacity contracted under the program, read the statement. The more residents and businesses contracting for solar, the lower the price for solar energy will become, according to the statement. Solarize Mass is run by MassCEC and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER).
"Solarize Mass and the 103 Green Communities are helping spread solar power across the 340 of 351 communities that now have at least one state-supportedsolar electricity project," said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia in the statement.
The average Massachusetts household uses 667 kilowatt hours per month, equivalent to an average $100 monthly bill for traditional energy sources, according to the statement. By installing a solar electric system under the Solarize program, Melrose homeowners entered into contracts to purchase solar would pay $73, with the price dropping if more people sign up for the program before the deadline, read the statement.
A committee of Melrose volunteers and municipal officials selected a partnership between Boston-based Next Step Living and Natick-based Roof Diagnostics to handle solar consultations and installations for the community, according to the statement.
To apply for inclusion in the Solarize Mass program, communities had to first be designated as Green Communities, according to Kakley. DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program, a result of the Green Communities Act signed by the Governor in 2008, rewards communities that earn Green Communities designation by meeting five clean energy benchmarks, Kakley added.
The program is funded through auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as Annual Compliance Payments made by electricity suppliers under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, Kakley wrote.
For more information on the Green Communities designation, visit the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs website.