Solar rooftop systems are popping up all over Needham, thanks in large part to the success of a community effort to promote solar panels and energy-efficient home heating & cooling technologies.
Solarize Mass Plus Needham began in September of 2019 and concluded on May 31, 2020. It was implemented by volunteers of the Green Needham Collaborative with support from Tatiana Swanson, the Finance and Procurement Coordinator for the Town of Needham.
Solarize is a Commonwealth of Massachusetts program to promote renewable energy and reduction of energy use for homeowners around the state. It is implemented by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) in partnership with the Department of Energy Resources and local communities willing to take it on.
After a competitive bidding process on behalf of the Town, MassCEC contracted with Boston Solar (rooftop solar) and N.E.T.R. (air source heat pumps) as the installers for Solarize Mass Plus Needham. Needham also piloted promoting the Drive Green program, run by the Green Energy Consumers Alliance. Drive Green informs people about the benefits of electric and plug-in hybrid cars and negotiates discounted no-hassle lease and purchase prices from participating dealers.
Green Needham is pleased to announce that the Solarize program resulted in 52 new solar systems installed by Boston Solar in Needham, bringing the number of homes in town with solar to over 500. Seven air source heat pump systems were installed by N.E.T.R.
Air source heat pumps operate to both cool and heat a home using electricity and are energy efficient. They are particularly effective for homes with older oil heating systems, and for homes that do not have air conditioning. Rebates, federal tax credits, plus Mass Save and State loan programs help make these purchases more affordable. Heat pumps also significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a home. Combining air source heat pumps with rooftop solar and an electric vehicle is a win-win-win – heating and cooling your home, powering your car and providing your home’s electricity.
Although the program was affected by the onset of Covid-19, which required cancelling several promotional events and making home assessments and installations more challenging, all the collaborating partners successfully adapted. We are very pleased with the overall outcome.
For those who were not able to take advantage of the special pricing while the program was running, Green Needham Collaborative encourages you to consider these technologies as a way to reduce the energy use and the carbon footprint of your home. For solar systems with installations completed by December 31 of this year, there is a 26% federal tax credit which will be reduced to 22% at the start of 2021, so now is a great time to take advantage of these tax incentives. (Federal tax incentives are scheduled to expire at the end of 2021.)