Western Massachusetts Communities Capitalize on Renewable Energy Incentives

Cities and towns across Western Massachusetts generate more electricity from the sun than any other region in the state. That’s according to a new report by Environment Massachusetts.

Holyoke is second in the state — only to Boston — for the amount of solar power it generates. That’s been the case for just about a year now. Last summer the city built a 4.5 megawatt solar array — which generates electricity for distribution to Holyoke utilities’ 18-thousand customers.

Johanna Neumann is with Environment Massachusetts. She says sizable installations like Holyoke’s array have picked up speed over the past few years.

“Since 2007, we have seen the amount of power that we generate from the sun increase thirty-fold. And that’s not just an accident. It’s really the result of the leadership of state and local and national officials.”

Neumann says Solarize Massachusetts is another of the state’s most successful energy incentive initiatives. Nate Joyner is a solar coach for Lenox, Massachusetts’ Solarize program. He says it encourages homeowners to invest in photovoltaic systems as whole communities — so they qualify for group discounts.

“They talk to their friends and their neighbors and they get more people to sign up and that drives the price down for everybody. I see no reason why this model wouldn’t spread either throughout the state or the country. This is really  a novel model where we’re leveraging the ability of community members to merge together and get that bulk purchasing power.”

Residents of Lenox, Pittsfield and Montague have until September 30th to sign up for the program.