MEDWAY —The entire world consumes about 16 terawatts of energy each year, while there is currently a reserve of finite energy totaling about 900 terawatts.
On the other hand, our most powerful renewable energy source, the sun, pumps out 23,000 terawatts of energy per year – more than enough to go around.
Several dozen residents, officials and business owners turned out for Meet Your Installer night to kick off the town’s involvement in Solarize Massachusetts – a clean energy education and group-buying initiative. The town is one of 10 communities that have been chosen to participate in the first round of the 2013 Solarize Mass program – which is offered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources to increase the use of solar energy while reducing the price.
Edward Whitaker, president of Second Generation Energy of Hopedale, which has been selected as the town’s solar vendor, joined resident Dan Hooper, a volunteer coordinator for the program, and Elizabeth Kennedy from Mass Clean Energy Center.
Kennedy began with a presentation on solar energy, in which she addressed a question she often gets: Does Massachusetts have enough sunlight to make solar a viable energy source?
Germany has the most solar projects in the world, Kennedy said, and has less solar exposure than anywhere in the United States, including Alaska.
“If they can make it economically viable, we can too,” said Kennedy, adding that Massachusetts has one of the highest electricity costs in the country because it’s at the end of the pipeline.
Those prices will continue to go up, Kennedy said, because electrical grid infrastructure will need to be updated in the future.
Solar is environmentally and economically efficient because it not only reduces, if not eliminates, electrical bills, but there are other incentives as well.
Kennedy said the federal government provides a 30 percent tax credit for the total cost of installing a system, while the state offers a $1,000 income tax credit. Additionally, residents who install systems through Solarize Mass can receive a rebate of $2,000 to $4,000 from the Clean Energy Center.
Solarize Mass also lowers the cost for systems because it is a group-purchasing model, of which already 41 Medway residents have expressed interest.
“As more people sign up, the more you save, whether you’re the first person to sign up or the last person to sign up,” Kennedy said. “You as a homeowner really just need to sign up.”
Whitaker then offered more information on the company, which served as the installer for Solarize Mass in Millbury and Sutton last year.
He said there will be two solar options, including ownership or a third party lease, which each have their own perks.
“We’re agnostic to your ownership preference, and we think it’s a personal decision,” Whitaker said. “It really depends on your financial preference more than anything.”
Owning a system, which lasts up to 50 years, costs about $10,000 on average after deductions.
Residents and business owners can sign up for a free, full assessment by Second Generation to find out if a solar system is feasible for their property, and then they have until Sept. 30 to sign a contract.