ADAMS -- The Board of Selectmen voted this week to begin the application process for the Solarize Mass program.
The board assigned a "point man" at Wednesday’s meeting, Selectman Michael Ouellette, to create the framework necessary to apply for the state program by the Oct. 22 deadline. The Selectmen hope to unveil a strategy to the public in the coming weeks.
Solarize Mass is a state program that seeks to lower the cost of home solar panel installation by combining residents of a municipality. By using one contractor for every interested homeowner in a community, the cost of installing the photovoltaic panels is reduced.
For a municipality to qualify, it must show to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which operate the program, that there is significant community interest. Without willing homeowners, the purchasing power of the community is diminished and prices are not lowered.
Selectmen will work to generate interest in the community over the coming weeks in order to prove to CEC that Adams is a viable candidate for the program.
"They emphasize the need to market," said Donna Cesan, Adams’ community development director.
Cesan suggested to the board that it hold a public meeting to explain the program to the community.
If the town is accepted by the state, it would receive a $2,500 grant to market the program to its homeowners. The only costs to the town, Cesan said, would be in staff time, attorney fees to review the application, and any marketing costs exceeding the $2,500 grant.
Despite enthusiasm for the program, the board still had questions.
"We’re all going to have a learning curve on this," Cesan said.
Ouellette expressed interest in bringing on local contractors to install solar panels, and was unsure if it would be possible.
Boardmembers also wanted to know the town’s role in choosing the contractor. Cesan said the town works with the state during the selection process.
Ouellette quickly offered to take an active role in the application process.
"I’ll do whatever I can," Ouellette said. "I’ll spend as much time as I can."
Ouellette said he would, as a homeowner, also be interested in participating in the program.
Lee and Williamstown are already enrolled in the program. Williamstown has reached enough solar users that its homeowners will achieve the lowest cost of installation. So far, over 900 residents have signed up for the program across the state.
But there is little time to generate similar interest in Adams.
"I think the application is doable," Cesan said, but added that "it needs to be a broader effort" by the entire community.
To reach Adam Shanks,