The future of Solarize Chelmsford

Our town has a strong commitment to energy projects that reduce our tax bills, including energy efficiency and solar electricity generation at municipal buildings. We should be considered progressive in that respect as we are to soon become only the 2nd town in the state to go "off the grid" in terms of municipal energy needs. On the residential side, adoption of solar energy has been slower, but was given a boost in 2013 with our participation in Solarize Mass. This state program is designed to encourage residents to take advantage of dropping solar panel prices and great financial incentives. Our turn in the program is now over -- the discounts were available between April and October 2013 through Solarize Chelmsford -- and residents are asking, what next?

For homeowners with good solar exposure there still are great deals to be had, like no-money-down Power Purchase Agreements, or direct purchase with return on investment (ROI) of 10-20%. The financial options are discussed here, including a link to an FAQ. However, only about 1 in 6 homes in town have a good south-facing unshaded roof.

For the rest of us, current options include direct purchase with a lower ROI, or purchasing clean energy from National Grid through the Mass Energy program. Future options for residents may include a solar farm, sometimes called a solar garden, in which residents would buy a share of a large solar array and would own the electricity that their share generates. A solar garden could be developed by a group of interested residents, and private companies that specialize in these projects are starting to appear in the state.

Mass Energy is a non-profit organization that allows members to support development of renewable energy sources for a slight premium added to their electric bill. The payments to Mass Energy are tax deductible if you itemize on your federal return. Is there an option you can take to support renewable energy?