BUT we’re far from done. Read the new (March 2013) SOLAR WAYLAND REPORT for analysis and suggestions for a more energy resilient future for our town: SOLARREPORTfinal
December 2012, PRESS RELEASE: Solarize Massachusetts Success in Context. Analysis and Ways Forward
The numbers are in for the 2012 edition of Solarize Massachusetts Program for small residential and commercial solar PV, which generate electricity from the sun’s energy. Wayland, Sudbury and Lincoln together added 137 systems totaling 1281 kW. Wayland by itself added 74 systems, totaling 659.1 kW.
What does this mean?
First, some context. We live in a State that is a clean energy leader in the U.S., especially in the area of solar photovoltaic (PV). Between 2007 and 2012, solar electricity production in Massachusetts grew from less than 4 megawatts to more than 174 megawatts. This puts the Commonwealth well on its way to meeting the goal of installing 250 megawatts by 2017.
Over the last five months Wayland contributed to that growth. Solarize Massachusetts resulted in 802 new installations for a total of 5.1 megawatts in 17 Green Communities. Wayland signed the first contract and achieved the first installation. Wayland, Lincoln and Sudbury together were the first to reach Tier Five in record time at the beginning of August. It was the only group to surpass a megawatt.
Before Solarize came to town, Wayland was already somewhat of a solar leader. According to the report, Massachusetts’ Solar Leaders by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center (2012), Wayland produced 121 kW of solar electricity production with 30 installations placing it 32nd in the statewide ranking and 3rd among “MetroWest Solar Leaders”. We counted 2.31 installations per 1,000 residents, ranking sixth in communities with 10,000 to 50,000 residents, and third in the MetroWest region, indicating a high adoption rate.
However, in terms of capacity per capita – which measures how much the local solar production could contribute to each resident should all “imports” of electricity cease – Wayland did not make any of the leader boards. Compared to the small town of Sheffield, where each resident would get 0.636 kW (enough to power a 60 watt light bulb for ten hours), Wayland could provide only 0.009 kW per resident. This means that we had a high adoption rate but that the installations were on average too small (a little over 4 kW) to make an impression in terms of capacity.
With Solarize, Wayland more than tripled its amount of installations, propelling it to first place on the score board for number of installations per 1,000 residents in mid-size municipalities, statewide. Even better, because we added systems that were much larger (on average 8.9 kw) our town came a long way in addressing our relative capacity issue. Local electricity producers can now provide each Wayland resident with 0.0657 kW (enough to power a 60 watt light bulb for 1 hour). This puts our town in first place on the leader board for capacity per capita for the MetroWest and in sixth place among midsize towns statewide.
But Solarize also revealed needs for solar PV that could not be serviced by the program, and these in turn reveal opportunities and ways forward.
- For one, many homeowners found that their properties were too shaded or that their roofs were not well-oriented, too old or structurally incapable of supporting an array. Many of them are still interested in producing and/or consuming locally and cleanly produced electricity under some other scheme. We need to look into ways in which these “shaded-out” residents can go solar.
- Secondly, the sizing of solar systems is always a challenge. After some period we may find that some systems are oversized, leading to overproduction of kWh and an accumulation of dollar credits in NSTAR accounts. We should monitor production and look into ways in which over-producing customers can sell or donate these credits locally.
- Thirdly, Solarize was geared toward the private sector, that is, homeowners and businesses, but in our town it failed to make a big impact on the businesses. We need to help our businesses go solar.
- Fourth, not-for-profit organizations, mainly houses of worship, were interested, but their tax-exempt status prevents them from benefiting from the State and Federal tax credits, making for much longer pay-off periods. We need to find ways to make solar financially attractive to not-for-profits.
- Lastly, though Solarize was not designed to impact the public sector, it has shown that residents would be happy to see solar PV on municipal and school buildings and land, for all the same reasons one has for choosing clean, local, and resilient energy: as the source of electricity for their own homes, as a way of powering municipal properties, thereby reducing taxes and even generating revenue, as clear manifestations of Wayland’s commitment to Earth stewardship, as a step toward increased resilience.
Kaat Vander Straeten (firstname.lastname@example.org), Solar Coach for Solarize Massachussetts 2012.
On Monday March 12 the Solarize Survey went online, inviting Wayland residents and business owners to express their interest in a program for solar photovoltaic (electricity producing) panels.
The following is the email invitation to the Survey that soon went viral:
Help bring solar to Wayland–please take a simple 5 question survey!
Dear Wayland resident and/or business owner,
Thank you for making Wayland into a Green Community. Here’s a gift in return! Because we are a Green Community, we have a chance to be part of Solarize Massachusetts, a program sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center that will allow residents, businesses and faith organizations to purchase and install photovoltaic (electricity producing) solar panels, and to buy solar power, at reduced prices.
There is lots of interest in solar photovoltaics, and Solarize would help interested parties by:
- Enabling the Town to select the best installer and contract for the whole of Wayland,
- Hiring that installer, thereby cutting costs of equipment and installation (*),
- Streamlining the permitting process,
- Offering several financing options,
- Making information about the entire process accessible through consistent community outreach, and
- Creating a sense of community while becoming more sustainable and resilient.
You can help us get into this great program! We need to demonstrate what kind of interest there is in Wayland for solar panels. Please take our Survey of Interest. It takes 3 minutes to answer 5 simple questions. The Survey is at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QYNKM9B. The deadline for proposals is very soon, so please take the Survey before March 18.
We are trying to reach as many people in Wayland as we can. Please make this invitation go viral by forwarding it to all Wayland residents, businesses and organizations that you think should take the Survey as well.
In the interest of pooling potential interested parties as well as outreach resources, Wayland may submit its proposal together with neighboring Green Communities. On the Wayland side, the program will be run by a collaboration of Town of Wayland municipal departments, the Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee, and Transition Wayland. Contact Kaat Vander Straeten (email@example.com) or Anne Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Let’s join forces to reap the many benefits of solar!
The Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee
(*) Cost reductions are achieved through a tiered pricing structure that provides increased savings for everyone as more people in the community participate. For instance, the seventy-five customers who signed up with the Solarize Massachusetts pilot in Harvard, MA, last year, made it to the fourth Tier. Compared to the net system cost of $15,275 and break-even period of 5.3 years in Tier One, their combined buying power resulted in a net cost of $10,025 and a break-even period of only 3.3 years. (source: http://masscec.com/masscec/file/HarvardSolar201Combined.pdf). More info about the pilot at
The Wayland enewsletter sent it out, as did the Patch, and appeared in the Town Crier on Thursday. Many organizations forwarded it to their email list, and individuals to their Wayland contacts. 24 hours after the Survey went live, there were 175 responses.
1. If Wayland could offer, to its residents and businesses, group purchasing and favorable pricing of solar equipment, installation, and solar electricity, how interested would you be in finding out more about this program?
2. If this program were available and the terms were favorable to you, how interested would you be in installing a solar photovoltaic system on your own residence and/or business?
Not interested at all
3. If you believe joining such a program would be a good thing for Wayland, would you also be willing to help make it happen (by helping other residents participate and thus get even better pricing)?
Yes, even though I couldn’t get solar myself
No, though I do believe this would be a good program for Wayland
No, I don’t believe this would be a good program for Wayland
4. If you would not be likely to participate in the program, is it because…
You don’t have a good roof / site for solar panels
The economics just don’t work out for you
You don’t think a program like this would work well
Other (please specify)
5. OPTIONAL: Leave your email address if you would like to be updated on this program (it will not be shared with anyone else) and/or leave a comment. Thank You!