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Three hill towns band together for Solarize Mass grant

BUCKLAND — Buckland, Ashfield and Plainfield are forming a Solarize Mass consortium and will apply for a grant that could save homeowners and businesses hundreds of dollars on the cost of solar-panel installations.

The program is called Solarize Mass., and the Clean Energy Center has just announced two new rounds of funding grants, according to Plainfield Energy Committee Chairman Tim Walter. Walter said the newly formed consortium will apply this fall for the first round of funding. If awarded the competitive grant, residents could probably begin signing up for free cost estimates and for photovoltaic (PV) installations starting sometime in February.

Besides reducing the cost to install the renewable-energy solar arrays for residents, the grant includes a $2,500 grant to each of the three towns to promote and publicize the solar program to residents.

The more residents and businesses that sign up for PV installations under this program, the greater the discount for residents of the three towns. They will also cut their electricity costs by using the solar energy.

The program is state-funded; the state selects three contractors who will offer discounts for group solar PV installation and the consortium gets to pick one of the three.

Besides the savings on installation costs, the state also offers low-interest “solar financing” loan options, to encourage more homeowners to “go green.”

To show there is enough public interest and support for this solar initiative, residents of the three towns are encouraged to call their respective Energy Committee member. This proof of interest will be submitted along with the group’s application.

Ashfield residents should call Jim Cutler at 625-1906. Buckland residents should call Ellen Kaufman at 625-9708, and Plainfield residents may call Walter at 413-634-8098.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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