Green Needham Solar Team
Promoting solar power to reduce carbon emissions, save money, and create jobs
Green Needham’s solar energy team seeks to
- increase the number of residential and business solar installations in Needham
- encourage the Town of Needham to take advantage of opportunities to utilize PV solar on public buildings
Would you like to join us in advocating for solar power?
Green Needham’s Solar Team welcomes your energy and ideas. For more information or to get involved, contact Nick Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our plans for this year include:
- Promote residential solar through educational events and an informal “Solar Ambassador” program. Solar Ambassadors are friends and neighbors who have “gone solar” and are willing to share their experiences with others.
- Encourage the Town to decide on a site for a free solar array to be installed by Astrum Solar (now Direct Energy) as part of the Solarize Needham agreement.
- Engage in advocacy for legislation and policies that promote solar.
- Keep track of opportunities for Community Solar. Sometimes called a “solar garden” or “solar farm,” a community solar facility is a large, centralized solar power array. Electric utility customers in the same electricity “load zone” as the array are eligible to participate, whether they live in a house, condo, or apartment. Right now, there are no Community Solar projects available to Needham residents and businesses, but we are looking for options that may arise.
Successes so far
Municipal Solar at the RTS
- In April, 2016, the town of Needham celebrated the grand opening of the solar installation on the capped landfill at the Recycling and Transfer Station (RTS). Covering 12 acres, the 11,780 solar panels are expected to produce over 4 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. With Needham receiving rental and property tax income from the system, as well as saving money on electricity costs, the project will save the town roughly $20 million over the next 20 years.
- Green Needham began investigating the possibility of solar at the RTS in 2009, when we organized a preliminary walk-through of the capped landfill and discovered the potential for a large PV array. After several years of conversations with town staff and officials, plus a presentation to the Board of Selection by Green Needham chairman Michael Greis, the Selectmen decided in 2012 to appoint a Solar Exploratory Committee to make recommendations. A positive recommendation from the Committee in a May 2013 report led to actions that resulted in completion of the project in less than 3 years.
Solarize Needham – accelerating installation of solar PV for Needham homeowners.
- In 2014, responding to a proposal by Green Needham, the Town of Needham worked with several of our members to submit a successful application for the “Solarize Massachusetts” grant program, which is designed to promote solar electric (Photovoltaic, “PV”) installations on homes and small businesses in selected communities across the state. In partnership with the Town, Green Needham put together a Solarize Needham™ team, which chose Astrum Solar (now Direct Energy) as the town’s “One Trusted Installer.” The Solarize Needham Team organized a grassroots educational campaign to introduce the program, which offered a tiered pricing structure that increased the savings for everyone as more home and business owners in town signed up.
- As a result of the Solarize Needham initiative, over 130 new residential PV systems were installed in 2014 and early 2015.
Needham Community Solar Challenge – In 2008 Green Needham partnered with the Needham League of Women Voters to solicit community members to donate to the New England Wind Fund. This successful project earned Needham a 2kW solar array that was installed at the new High Rock School and accumulated, through donations to the New England Wind Fund, over $21,000 in community matching funds toward alternative energy and education projects. The Big Belly solar trash compactors around town were purchased with these funds.
Let’s Talk about Solar. In March, 2016, Green Needham’s Solar Team organized a “Let’s Talk About Solar” program. An audience 50 people came to Broadmeadow School to learn about the new solar project at the RTS, as well as other solar efforts in town.
Solar 101 – Green Needham presented this introduction and guide to residential solar energy in March, 2013. You can now watch the March, 2013 Solar 101 on streaming video from the Needham Channel.
- Solar for your home – How to bring solar and other green energy options to your home.
- 2013 Solar 101 handout slides
- Solar Team Webinar February 2013
Links to sites
- Mass Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Residential Solar Resources
- Solarize Needham
- Solarize Massachusetts – Home page for the Solarize Massachusetts program at the Mass Clean Energy Center