Solarize Acton was a joint project of the Town of Acton, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Department of Energy Resources, and several Acton community partners to bring you high-quality, low-cost, solar energy installations. Here is an archive of the contents of the web pages.
Thanks, Results, and What’s Next
Nov 7, 2012
Thanks to you, Acton will have 179,122 new watts of solar photovoltaic (PV) power and 175 square feet of new solar hot water panels, for a total equivalent to 188,232 Watts. This came from 34 PV and 3 hot water contracts with 35 households and one business. We reached Tier 4 pricing, bringing the basic price per watt down from $4.89 to $4.14. New England Clean Energy, the hardworking company chosen as Solarize Acton’s installer, has finished two of the installations already, and will be busy over the next 12 months finishing all the others.
Nearly 500 households asked for solar power assessments, and many more learned about solar power. By the time of our last tabling at Octoberfest, almost every Acton resident we asked had heard of Solarize Acton. Some households that couldn’t be served by New England Clean Energy because of the specific terms of the Solarize Acton contract went out and found other installers, and other households are in ongoing conversations with New England Clean Energy about installations to be done later, when trees get cut down, or when financial circumstances change. The impact of the momentum we created together will continue for years in to the future.
What else can you do right now?
1. Acton Community Solar Garden
Some of you couldn’t get a solar power installation because of site issues such as roof angles or shade. Two people on the Solarize Acton community team, Debby Andell and Greg Voss, are researching the possibility of a community solar garden for Acton, where a large solar power installation could be set up that brings credits to the electric bills of the households that choose to participate. If you would like to be kept up to date on what is happening with this effort, or if you are able and willing to help with the research and launch of this project, please let Debby and Greg know, by filling out this form:http://tinyurl.com/ActonCommunitySolar
2. Free Energy Audit, via Sagewell, Inc.
If you are getting a solar PV system, you have to have a recent free energy audit, via the MassSave program, before you can get the state rebates. If you are not getting a solar system, a free energy audit is still a great idea: you find out about how to save money by using less energy, and the program provides rebates, free materials, and access to many other programs that can help reduce your electric bill. One easy way to request your free energy audit is via Sagewell, Inc at http://sagewell.com. Sagewell thermal imaging trucks went through many streets in Acton earlier this year, so you can also find out if they have a free thermal image waiting for you to look at. Whether they do or not, there’s a simple checkbox after you enter your address to request a free energy audit.
3. Introduce yourself to our sponsors.
Many organizations provided support for getting the word out about Solarize Acton. They are all fine folks that you might want to get to know better. Brief descriptions and links to learn more are on the sponsor page.
New Power Purchase Agreement Option — Solar Electricity for No Money Down!
Sep 21, 2012
New England Clean Energy, the installer for Solarize Acton, has arranged for customers to have the option of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In a PPA, you pay no money to get a solar power system on your property. The system is owned and maintained by a PPA company, and you pay only for the electricity you use, at rates less than you pay now. For more details, see the Power Purchase Agreement page.
If you have hesitated about getting started with Solarize Acton because you thought a large investment would be needed up front, there’s an alternative for you now. Sign up for a free site assessment and specify in the signup form that you are interested in a PPA, or, if you have already started with Solarize Acton, ask your New England Clean Energy representative about this way to get started with Solar electricity for little or no money.
Contract Signing Deadline Extended to October 31
Sep 21, 2012
The Solarize Acton community team is happy to announce that the final date for signing Solarize Acton contracts has been extended from September 30 to October 31. New England Clean Energy and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center have accepted our request for a new deadline, based on the recent availability of the no-money-down Solarize Acton Power Purchase Agreement option, and a flurry of new interest in Solarize Acton in September.
Tier Three Pricing Achieved!
Sep 2, 2012
The first nine Solarize Acton solar power contracts have been signed, bringing the starting price down for an average system by $2,400 since the program began. Solarize Acton has five pricing tiers. At each tier, the installed price of a system goes down another 25 cents / watt. The tiers are reached when the total wattage of all contracts signed exceeds 25, 50, 150, and 250 kilowatts. As of Sep 2, the signed contracts total more than 60 kilowatts.
Contracts must be signed by October 31 to be eligible for this tiered pricing.
Tier Two Pricing
Aug 15, 2012
The first four Solarize Acton solar power contracts have been signed, bringing the pricing down for an average system by $1,200 (25 cents per watt).
First Solarize Acton Contract Signed
July 26, 2012
The first Solarize Acton contract was signed for a 7500 Watt system near Powder Mill Road in the South of Acton.
Solar 201: Plans and Prices
July 10, 2012
Sixty interested households gathered at Acton Town Hall with staff from New England Clean Energy to learn about the programs and prices offered as part of Solarize Acton.
Here are the slides from New England Clean Energy and, thanks to Acton TV, a video of the entire presentation, including the entire Q+A. The plans include a purchase option, and a leasing option. Other options include a choice of solar panel types, roof mounting or ground mounting, monitoring equipment and more. Households can also choose to install solar hot water systems instead of, or in addition to, solar PV systems.
New England Clean Energy chosen as Solarize Acton installer
June 22, 2012
New England Clean Energy, formerly known as New England Breeze, was chosen by the town of Acton to be the Solarize Acton installer. Nine bids were received. New England Clean Energy was the successful installer for Solarize Harvard as part of last year’s Solarize pilot program – over 70 installations are in process in Harvard.
Solar 101: The Basics
May 24, 2012
Room 204 in Town Hall was filled with Actonians who wanted to learn about solar energy in general, and the Solarize Acton program in particular. The presentation explained solar-generated electricity (Photovoltaics, or PV), why they are such a great bargain now, and how the Solarize Acton program will make them an even better deal.
Acton selected to be part of 2012 Solarize Massachusetts program
April 13, 2012
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center announced today that Acton was chosen as one of 17 towns and cities to participate in the second year of Solarize Mass. This will give Acton technical support and a small marketing budget to bring solar power installations to as many Acton residents and businesses as possible over the next few months. The first step will be soliciting bids and picking an installer. The next step will be encouraging Actonians to sign up for free site assessments and, if their sites are appropriate, signing contracts for installations. The special Solarize Acton pricing will be available until October 31, 2012, and installations will be complete within 1 year of signing contracts.
Community Sponsors Helping with Publicity and Education:
Help Solarize Acton Succeed!
This is a message from the community volunteers who are working on Solarize Acton.
We are very excited about this program. We see how Acton and its residents and business owners will benefit from inexpensive high quality renewable energy. We’ve learned how pleased people are with the work of New England Clean Energy, our installer, and how successful they were in Harvard MA during last year’s Solarize Mass pilot. But we also understand that Solarize Acton depends upon community volunteers for its success.
First, the program pricing assumes that much of the work of education and outreach is done by volunteers. In other words, it is up to us to find the households that might benefit from solar power, and get them the information they need to decide whether to sign up for a free site assessment, and, after that, a contract.
Second, the program is structured so that the more households sign up, the better the pricing will be for everyone: Pricing improves at each ‘tier’ of total contracted kiloWatts (kW). Price breaks happen at 25, 50, 150, and 250 kW. Since an average installation is about 5 kW, that means we need about 50 installations to get the best pricing. So, if you have signed a contract, come help us sign other people up to guarantee the best pricing.
What are volunteers doing? You could help out in a wide variety of ways, including:
- Drafting brochures, websites, Facebook postings, emails, etc., that will help educate and persuade.
- Handing out written material in places such as the transfer station, the Farmer’s Market, the Commuter Rail, or other plaes where Actonians congregate
- Forwarding emails to neighborhood and organizational networks to reach more Acton residents.
- Speaking to small or large groups, clubs, and gatherings about Solarize Acton
- Responding to questions that come in from residents by email, phone, or Facebook.
- Helping to staff larger educational events, by helping with set=up or takedown, providing refreshments, assisting people with signing in, etc.
- Identifying other ways to reach more people
Volunteers right now are Bruce Friedman, Carole Marcacci, Chris Schaffner, Darren Jones, Debby Andell, Debra Simes, Greg Voss, Heather Haines, Sasha Berkovich, Jim Snyder-Grant, and contact people at each of the project’s organizational sponsors.
Come Join Us!
More about Solarize Acton
If you have questions that are not answered below, here are some ways to help you learn more:
- Call the official installer for Solarize Acton, New England Clean Energy, at 978-567-6527
- Send email to SolarizeActon@NewEnglandCleanEnergy.com
You get charged for electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The size of solar PV systems is measured in kilowatts (kW). A typically-sized residential solar system at 5kW might generate about 6,000 kWh per year, or 6 MWh.
- Having a single installer for all the contracts allows for bulk purchasing of panels.
- The competive bidding process drives the prices down.
- Having the town and community groups involved allows the installer to reduce their normal marketing costs.
- Massachusetts incentives are some of the best in the nation.
To reflect the money that can be saved by the installer for larger bulk purchases, and to give everyone involved an incentive to get more solar PV installed, Solarize Acton pricing gets better the more contracts are signed before Sep 30. Everyone who signs a contract gets to have the tiered pricing achieved by adding up all the contracts signed by October 31. The price per Watt for a purchased system, and the price per kWh for a leased system falls like this:
|Total Contracted PV||<25kW||25–50kW||50–150kW||150–250kW||>250kW|
New England Clean Energy will look at your house site using aeriel imagery, and then call your or email you with one of three possibilities:
- Your house site will definitely not work for Solar PV — the roof lines are wrong, there’s no room for a ground-mounted system, or there is way too much shade.
- Your house site might work for Solar PV — we’d like to come by some time, and walk on to your property to measure the solar potential and to better understand your roof lines
- Your house site will definitely work for Solar PV — we’d like to come by to take some more detailed measurements on your roof, talk to you about options, and get you a proposal.
If you get a proposal, you have until Sep 30 to sign it. Signing earlier will get your installation done sooner, and will help us know what tier of pricing we have reached. If you don’t sign your contract after awhile, we may be contacting you to to find out if you have any questions or concerns that we can help answer to help you decide whether or not to sign. For all installations other than the no-money-down lease, there is a $1,000 down payment due with the contract signing.
- Some sites have land that would be good for a pole-mounted system, and this is an option offered by New England Clean Energy.
- New England Clean Energy will also assess your house for the feasibility of a solar hot water installation, which can work on many roofs where solar PV will not. There is special Solarize pricing for solar hot water systems, and installing these will count towards our Tier totals.
- There are other services and installation offered by New England Clean Energy that you may be interested in, such as an extended energy audit, energy monitoring equipment, solar attic fans, or more.
- There may be an option for you to participate in a solar community garden after Solarize Acton is done.
If a Community Solar Garden project starts up in Acton, it will be after the Solarize Acton project is done, and it will rely on the energy of those who sign up to participate.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) information
This depends on these factors:
- The pricing tier reached by the Solarize Acton program
- The efficiency of your system
- Extra labor or materials needed to make your system work
- How much money, if any, you choose to pay ahead of time to reduce the future cost of your electricity
- Whether you choose to pay less for your electricity now and more later, or pay the same amount for the whole contract period.
You would pay only 13 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour) once the system is turned on, with these assumptions:
- Tier 3 pricing
- A roof pointed directly south with little or no shade
- A standard roof mounted installation
- You choose to pay no money down
- You choose to have your electricity costs rise at a standard 2.9% / year
NSTAR prices vary, but 18 cents/kWh is a typical amount, significantly more than the PPA cost under almost all assumptions.