The Great Barrington and Egremont property owners participating in Solarize Mass will pay the minimum startup costs for enrolling in the state-sponsored solar energy program expected to help them save money on their electric bills.

Less than two months into the program, the two-town partnership has combined for 29 signed contracts with RGS Energy, a Colorado company hired to install solar arrays in the two communities.

The final installation cost is determined by the number of total kilowatt hours in each community being produced under Solarize Mass, with 200kW, or Tier 5, being the cheapest threshold.

The Great Barrington/Egremont collaboration plans to produce 215kW, according to both towns solar coordinators.

"People in Great Barrington are enthusiastic about renewable energy," said Malcolm Fick of Great Barrington.

Typically, communities reach the lowest installation cost near the enrollment deadline, which is June 30 for the latest round of the program.

"I'm ecstatic, but not surprised by our great start given the past success of the program in Berkshire County has been phenomenal," said Egremont's Juliette Haas. "People in our communities know they can trust the program."

Since Solarize Mass debuted nearly three years ago, 170 home and business owners in Williamstown, Lee, Pittsfield and Lenox have installed solar arrays. In all, 1,250 property owners in 31 cities and town have enrolled in the program.


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Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which oversees the program along with the state Department of Energy Resources, announced in December the Great Barrington/Egremont partnership, one of four statewide totaling nine communities approved by the state agencies. Adams and five other municipalities were awarded solo participation in the program.

While Adams is off to a modest start with six signed contracts, also with RGS Energy, the town's solar coordinator is confident her community will pick up the pace.

"We have 20 other site assessments completed and some of them have contracts in the works," Dianne Cutillo said.

In an effort to boost local interest in Solarize Mass, Adams officials and RGS Energy will be reaching out to property owners who are good candidates for solar energy.

Property owners in the participating communities sign up for a solar assessment with their respective installer -- free of charge -- to determine if their home or business is a viable site for a solar array.

Homeowners have the option to purchase the photovoltaic system outright from the designated installer, lease the solar panels or have the solar energy company own and maintain the panels, with the electricity generated being sold to the homeowner at a rate lower than the utility.

Overall, Solarize Mass has produced 9,400 kilowatts, or 9.4 megawatts, since it began in 2011. The program is part of state's plan to generate 250 megawatts of solar electricity capacity by 2017, according to state energy officials.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.

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Arrays of sunshine ...

Residents of Great Barrington, Egremont and Adams interested in participating in Solarize Mass have until June 30 to enroll in the state-sponsored energy program.

n GreatBarrington: For more information, call (413) 528-1619, ext. 8 or online at solarizegb@gmail.com.

n Egremont: For more information, go online at solarizeegremont@gmail.com

n Adams: For more information, call (413) 743-8317 or online at solarize@town.adams.ma.us.