Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cheap Solar Comes to Boston

Residents and businesses in Boston can pay less for electricity produced from solar energy than conventional sources, thanks to the Solarize Massachusets (Solarize Mass) program. Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) CEO Alicia Barton McDevitt on Aug. 23 announced that Boston residents will now pay 11 cents per kilowatt-hour as compared to the 15 cents per kWh state average for electricity from traditional energy sources as a result of Boston’s participation in Solarize Mass.

Massachusetts utilities and power providers rely on a mix of coal-fired, natural gas and nuclear power to meet the state’s electricity needs. That’s changing – rapidly – due in large part to state and federal government renewable energy incentive programs and stimulus funding.

Solarize Mass: A national model for bulk purchases of solar power

“A national model, this group pricing program locks in electricity prices and rates, and creates a network of locally-grown energy sources while creating local jobs,” commented Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, who also serves as chairman of the MassCEC Board of Directors. “We applaud the city of Boston for its leadership in clean energy adoption.”

Added Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who’s having solar panels installed on his home, “I encourage everyone to join the clean energy revolution in Boston. Solar power is now more affordable than ever in the City. It’s being installed on residences, businesses and municipal buildings at an increasing rate, and we are on the way to meeting our 2015 goal of 25 megawatts of solar energy in Boston.”

Massachusetts has set a goal of producing 250 MW of electricity from solar energy by 2017 under the leadership of Gov. Deval Patrick. The state’s more than halfway towards achieving this with 129 MW installed to date. Programs such as Solarize Mass are playing a central role.

In Boston, residents and businesses who have signed up for Solarize Mass have contracted for the installation of 18 solar PV systems with a total 80 kW capacity. MassCEC’s on a drive to increase participation.

“I hope Boston’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,” Barton McDevitt stated.

Massachusetts: green communities
Residents and businesses in 17 Massachusetts communities, including Boston, can sign up for and participate in the Solarize Mass program, which “offers five tiers of discounted pricing based on the total solar capacity contracted under the program,” MassCEC explains. As such, the price of electricity produced from Solarize Mass PV systems declines as more capacity is added and more participants sign up.

“This is a bright day for Boston residents and businesses, as well as for the Menino family,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “Solarize Mass and the 103 Green Communities are helping spread solar power across the 339 of 351 communities that now have at least one state-supported solar electricity project.”

The emergence of a proactive, strong and persistent renewable energy policy has turned Massachusetts into a clean energy leader among U.S. states. The benefits are numerous, varied and increasing.

Massachusetts invests more per capita in clean energy than any other US state. Solar and wind power installations diversify the state’s energy mix and are a hedge against high and volatile fossil fuel prices. They’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of environmental degradation and threats associated with fossil fuels and nuclear power, and they can produce power locally for local consumption.

Moreover, the cost of producing electricity from renewable energy sources have fallen fast, and can be competitive with conventional power sources even in the context of today’s narrowly focused financial and economic tools, as the Solarize Mass program demonstrates.

This great deal won’t be around forever. Boston residents and businesses need to sign up in the Solarize Mass “bulk buying program” before Sept. 30 in order to qualify for the low rate, which could move even lower should sufficient numbers of people sign up.

Clean energy jobs and economic growth
Added to all this, Massachusetts’ clean energy investments and incentive programs are stimulating the economy and resulting in job creation. The state’s clean energy sector grew 11.2% from July 2011 to July 2012, MassCEC announced recently, and now employs 71,523 people at 4,995 clean energy businesses across the state. That’s an economic growth rate well above that of even rapidly industrializing countries, such as China, and as of July it’s created gainful employment for 1.7% of Massachusetts’ total workforce.


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