Monday November 26, 2012

Solarize Massachusetts, and its companion state program Common wealth Solar, have proven their value in 2012 and should be continued next year. Green energy is no longer just the wave of the future -- it is working now.

As The Eagle reported on November 12, more than 800 private properties in 17 Massachusetts communities, among them Pittsfield and Lenox, made the Solarize Massachusetts program more popular than anticipated in 2012. Under the state-subsidized program, residents and businesses buy or lease solar arrays and sell any unused power to the grid. The 58 homes participating in Lenox and Pitts field will generate about 9 percent of the estimated 5,100 kilowatt hours of electricity produced by the 802 properties. Pittsfield and Lenox ranked fourth and fifth respectively among the 17 communities.

The two solar programs will cost the state $5.7 million this year, a good investment that should be reduced in the years ahead as word of the programs’ success spreads and more communities participate. They are a product of the 2008 Green Communities Act, which requires state utilities to generate 7 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2016. According to The Boston Globe last week, the 8.2 megawatts of solar capacity in Massachusetts four years ago have now expanded to 174 megawatts.

It’s good to see Pittsfield and Berkshire County, which because of the beautiful en vironment have a vested interest in clean energy, at the forefront of this movement. WMECO has 6,500 solar panels on the former GE site in Pittsfield, Berkshire Com munity College installed 1,800 roof top solar panels, a solar energy project is proposed for Ponterril in Pittsfield, and Solarize Mas sachusetts is under way here. We hope the sunlight spreads in 2013.