Belchertown joins state solar incentive program

  • —Carl Attard/via Pexels

Staff Writer
Thursday, August 08, 2019

BELCHERTOWN — Belchertown has been selected to join Solarize Mass, an incentive program that helps homes and businesses install small-scale solar photovoltaic systems for lowered prices.

The program, which launched in 2011 through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), adjusts installation prices based on how many people sign up for the service. Seven communities were chosen to participate in the initiative this year.

“It’s really a win-win type program,” said Frank Byrne, a resident and solar coach for the Solarize Belchertown volunteer committee. “Number one, it encourages communities like Belchertown to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt sources of clean energy, such as solar PV. And it’s a win for the residents because they’re able to have installers pre-vetted and the best possible costs based on the idea of banding together as a group purchase.”

Byrne said that the committee hopes to see a 20 percent discount on typical residential solar installations through the program.

The program is a “combination of opportunities,” said Doug Albertson, Belchertown town planner and municipal representative for Solarize Belchertown, allowing residents and businesses to become more environmentally friendly money while saving money.

“We expect to add value to (residents’) houses as well,” Albertson said, “and they’ll feel good about doing the right thing.”

The committee is working with the clean energy center to determine the best solar installer to partner with the town, Byrne said, and will have that company finalized by early September. The sign-up period will begin immediately after the installer is chosen, and will run through Feb. 1.

So far, 3,502 systems have been contracted throughout the state under the program, according to MassCEC, and about 70 communities have already participated. Other Hampshire County communities that have participated in the program include Amherst, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Hatfield, Northampton, Plainfield and Williamsburg.

The Solarize Belchertown committee will hold a “Meet the Installers” event at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Belchertown Town Hall, where residents can ask the chosen installer questions and learn more about installing solar power systems.