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‘Solarize Greenfield’ info session Wednesday

GREENFIELD — Would you like to help make Greenfield even greener through installation of solar-electric panels on homes and businesses? You can learn how to participate in an effort to ‘Solarize Greenfield,” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at 74 Federal St.

Greening Greenfield and the town government are exploring joining a state-run program called ‘Solarize Mass.’ that helps residents install discounted solar panels that generate electricity from the sun. The panels, also called photovoltaics or PV, are already a cost effective investment today — but this program would offer participants an additional 15 to 20 percent discount if enough panels are purchased in a three- to four-month time frame by residents and small businesses in the town.

“The success of the program depends on our interest in installing PV panels, and marketing them to our friends and neighbors,” said Pam Kelly of the nonprofit Greening Greenfield. “The panels can be mounted on a sunny south facing roof or ground mounted in a yard. We are also looking at ways to build a community solar system for people who want to get involved, but do not own a building, or have a sunny site.”

“I get about 80 percent of my electricity from my 14 solar panels and pay only about $250 per year for the extra electricity I use,” says Sandra Boston, a Greening Greenfield member, who installed solar panels in her backyard over a year ago. “While they were expensive, I am on track to pay off the cost of the panels in five to six years with the savings on my electric bill, which used to be $1,200 per year.”

Boston’s panels are connected to the electric grid so she automatically sell excess electricity at retail prices to Western Massachusetts Electric Co., and to purchase electricity when she needs it. She also took advantage of the state tax credit, 30 percent federal tax credit and state rebates to reduce the initial cost. She will receive an additional subsidy through another program until 2020.

Solar installers also offer financing options that require little or no upfront investment. A transferable “power purchasing contract” allows the homeowner to “rent-the-roof” to a solar company that owns the collectors. Home owners get a monthly electric bill for green electricity at a low fixed rate for the next 20 years, and have no responsibility for insurance or maintenance of the collectors.

For more information on this event or how to get involved, go to GreeningGreenfield.org and click on the “Solarize” button or call 413-475-3605.

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