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Greenfield ‘solar challenge’ draws a crowd

The more people who sign up, the greater the savings

  • Evan Dick, 33, of Gill and Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wire mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield Tuesday. The Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics technicians, also known as PV², said they install panels on about two homes a month within Greenfield, but get a lot of business around Amherst and Northampton.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Evan Dick, 33, of Gill and Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wire mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield Tuesday. The Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics technicians, also known as PV², said they install panels on about two homes a month within Greenfield, but get a lot of business around Amherst and Northampton.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wires mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield. Savage joined Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics, also known as PV2, about two years ago to follow the 'steadily growing' solar industry. He said these solar panels would pay themselves off in about six years.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wires mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield. Savage joined Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics, also known as PV2, about two years ago to follow the 'steadily growing' solar industry. He said these solar panels would pay themselves off in about six years.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Evan Dick, 33, of Gill and Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wire mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield Tuesday. The Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics technicians, also known as PV², said they install panels on about two homes a month within Greenfield, but get a lot of business around Amherst and Northampton.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Aric Savage, 30, of Greenfield wires mounts for solar panel installation at a home on Mountain Road in Greenfield. Savage joined Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics, also known as PV2, about two years ago to follow the 'steadily growing' solar industry. He said these solar panels would pay themselves off in about six years.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

GREENFIELD — Residents and business owners alike could see deep discounts on new solar electric systems if they sign up by Nov. 15.

Just how much they’ll pay depends on how much generating capacity is contracted through the Greenfield Solar Challenge, a partnership between the town and Greenfield-based Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics.

There appeared to be no shortage of interest in the program during a Thursday night kickoff. The studio of Greenfield Community Television was packed to capacity, and some attendees had filled out preliminary paperwork before the two-hour presentation was over. There were well over 50 people in attendance.

Rates will start at $3.80 per watt, and will drop in 10-cent tiers. The first tier covers zero to 25 kilowatts of capacity, the second goes up to 50 kW, the third tops out at 150 kW and the fourth covers up to 250 kW. If more than 250 kW is contracted, the rate drops to $3.40 per watt.

PV2 representatives said the average cost for similar systems is $5 per watt, making the program cost-effective even at the low tiers.

Greenfielders can also take advantage of rebates and state and federal tax credits, and sell “solar renewable energy credits,” making their costs even lower.

At the first tier, a single-family home could have a 6-kW rooftop array installed for $19,550 after rebates, according to Josh Hilsdon of PV2. The homeowner could sell $17,820 of SRECS over 10 years, and claim $7,840 in state and federal tax credits. Those rates combined with an estimated $1,122 in annual electricity savings could make the system pay for itself in four years, he said.

He gave the caveat that there is no “one size fits all” solar electric system, and costs would go up if the buyer chooses higher-end solar panels and related equipment, if the roof structure needs to be strengthened before installation, or if the customer opts for a ground-mounted system.

If enough people sign up for the program, the costs could become even cheaper. PV2 will wait until the sign-up period is done, then buy the needed materials together for a bulk discount.

While financing is available through home-equity or personal loans, program participants will need $1,500 up front to get the ball rolling.

With a $500 deposit, PV2 will develop a proposal for a solar array. Another $1,000 is due when a full plan is developed and the contract signed.

Andy Toomajian, also of PV2, said the company hopes to start installing the arrays before year’s end, and plans to have them all done by November 2015.

Toomajian said PV2 will hold open office hours from 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays for those interested in the program. Since the company has been extremely busy, he said office hours won’t be held today.

You can also call “solar coach” Ann Perkins at 413- 772-1389 for assistance with applications. Perkins said she will hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For more on the program or to fill out an online application, visit www.pvsquared.coop.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 On Twitter, follow @RecorderRain

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