The Little Town That Did

Flash back to the May 3rd edition of the Carlisle Mosquito and its Green Corner submission, The Little Town That Could. That article announced Carlisle’s selection to participate in the state-wide Solarize Mass program. This article is its “bookend” counterpart to share the results of how well we actually did.

Solarize Mass backgrounder

Solarize Mass was developed and sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) with the express mission of increasing the awareness and adoption of solar energy systems throughout the state. Having just completed its third yearly cycle, Solarize Mass has helped overcome the complexities and cost barriers that have traditionally plagued the solar energy market, and in doing so has enabled the addition of more than 1,250 new solar energy systems within 31 Massachusetts cities and towns. The electric energy produced by those solar systems will reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 140,000 tons of CO2 during their operational lifespan.

How well did Carlisle do?

Carlisle was one of ten communities participating in this round of Solarize Mass. I’m pleased to report that 54 Carlisle households took advantage of the program’s attractive pricing and are now en route to solarizing their homes. The town will be adding more than 380 kilowatts of new solar electric capacity to its preexisting 160 kilowatts (i.e., more than a 235% increase), which will reduce Carlisle’s greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 5,700 tons of CO2 over a 25-year period.

Carlisle’s performance in Solarize Mass substantially exceeded the goals and expectations we had envisioned at the outset of the program, which is a testament to the environmental consciousness of our community. With 200 households expressing interest in solar energy—and 54 actually contracting for a system—Carlisle’s solar interest “conversion rate” of 27% led all ten participating communities. Similarly, Carlisle also led all ten communities in the percentage of homes receiving a solar site assessment that went on to contract for a solar system (an impressive 43% of the 127 Carlisle homes that were assessed procured a solar system versus a program-wide average of just 32%).

What’s next for solar in Carlisle?

Despite the town’s excellent level of solar adoption during Solarize Mass, we actually had far more homeowner interest in solarizing than suitable sites to do so. Solar energy systems need to be installed in locations that receive a sufficient number of hours per day of uninterrupted (and unshaded) sun exposure to make their investment financially practicable. We all love our large, wooded lots, but frequently they don’t present an ideal set of ingredients for solarizing.

Given the sizable unfulfilled level of interest in solarizing in Carlisle, the Energy Task Force has already begun considering additional approaches to reduce the town’s dependence and reliance on electric power generated from fossil fuels. One of the options we will be investigating includes installing more solar systems on town-owned buildings (e.g., town hall, fire station, cranberry bog house, adding to the existing school solar system, etc.). Installing a community “solar garden” in town may also be a viable option. The town of Harvard is leading the way as the first city or town in the state to launch such a community resource, serving as a model for other communities (see www.hsgarden.org).

In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions regarding solar energy in Carlisle, you can continue to reach out to solarize@greencarlisle.org. Solarizing in Carlisle isn’t ending with the conclusion of Solarize Mass!

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