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Solarize Scituate program marked as a success as deadline approaches

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 21, 2011 12:19 PM

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Solarize Scituate is wrapping up with a total of 22 residents participating in the solar panel discount program.

Scituate was one of four communities selected in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Solarize Massachusetts pilot program, which hoped to encourage homeowners and business owners in Scituate, Harvard, Hatfield, and Winchester to install solar panels on their homes through substantial state and program incentives and rebates.

According to Scituate’s Town Planner Laura Harbottle, the program was a success – with qualifications.

So far, three homes have already installed the panels, and 19 others have signed contracts to do so.

“We would have liked to have more people sign up, but at the same time, 19 people with solar panels who didn’t have it before and who were maybe encouraged by the discount is definitely a good thing,” she said.

The program was initially extended to hopefully receive more applicants for the program. The 19 families include four who signed on after the initial deadline in September, and program organizers are hoping even more jump on board before the Oct. 31 deadline.

According to CEC spokespeople, over 300 Scituate residents expressed interest in going solar. Although only two dozen have signed up for the program, the number of houses with solar panels has already tripled.

“We are pleased with the amount of enthusiasm we have seen in Scituate and are hoping to finish strong and reach the second tier of pricing before the end of the pilot program,” said Glenn Maltais, VP Market Development and Sustainability at Munro Distributing, in a release.

MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney agreed that the program was a success overall.

“Solarize Massachusetts is motivating residents and business owners in these four towns to adopt solar energy as a viable way to manage energy costs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.

Two raffles were also held to give residents even more of a chance to win money for their solar systems.

According to a release, two Scituate residents were awarded a $500 rebate toward the cost of their Solar PV system.

Although people might be more inclined to go solar – and invest money in their homes – when the economy picks up, Harbottle doubted there would be that much of a shift after the program ends.

“[A good economy] helps people’s perspective on how much they’re spending, although you also need to look at this discount, and that won't be available anymore,” she said. “But still, hopefully people will install more systems even without the discount.”

The true test will come when people start seeing the impact and influence of green energy in the form of the solar array and wind turbine, both of which are being installed in the town.

Although the array won’t be very visible, the turbine will definitely have some effect on residents’ viewpoints of sustainable energy, Harbottle said.

“The wind turbine you’re going to see, and it seems that throughout the South Shore, people look at the wind turbines in Hull and think they’re a great leader, but we can be a leader too,” Harbottle said.

“Hopefully, people will see the wind turbine and have a positive confident feeling in their town, that the town is taking big steps to become more energy-efficient. And any savings will come back to the homeowner through their fees that they pay for town services.”

Officials only hope that by seeing the town’s commitment to solar energy, they will follow suit. But only time will tell, Harbottle said.

For more information on the Solarize Scituate program, visit www.solarizescituate.com.

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