Solar Surplus Countdown!

We figured we need to overproduce (produce more than we consume) about 100 solar KwH by August 13th, which will be a year from when our solar system was connected to the grid and we started producing. If we make it, we’ll have broken even. It will be a challenge, since as of next week our household will double in size. There will be six of us: DH’s parents and sister will be with us for the summer. But they’appreciate the challenge, I’m sure.

I’m working on a plug-in for the blog that will track the race.

Speaking of Solar Surplus and Countdown…

Here in Wayland we are running the Solarize Massachusetts program. This is a state-sponsored program developed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MA CEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) to encourage residential solar photovoltaic electricity (PV) installations.  It provides a framework for municipalities, homeowners and solar installers to work collaboratively to maximize cost-savings and energy efficiency benefits. It

  • Was only available to designated Green Communities (31 of 86 towns applied)
  • Was piloted in four communities in 2010, and is now extended to 17 towns
  • Provides marketing, outreach, procurement, and contracting support
  • Creates a group purchasing opportunity.  The price drops as more people sign up.
  • Ends on Sept 30. 2012

Wayland teamed up with neighboring towns Lincoln and Sudbury, adding up to about 13000 households. Each town assigned a solar coach (I’m the coach for Wayland) to lead the grassroots outreach. The MassCEC put out the Request for Proposals to solar installers and vetted the bids, then sent them our way. Together with specialists in the field, we chose an installer for the program.

What an opportunity! When I signed on for this, I knew this would be well worth my time. And I was appreciative of the MassCEC for engaging the grassroots in this. Just them, just a solar installer, or a combination of those two, would never have the impact of the grassroots that are already in place.

Putting systems in place for (and before) when they’re needed is one of the goals of Transition work. Cleanly, distributively and locally produced energy is one of those systems. The goal is to enrich Wayland with 100 solar arrays, 100 households that feel the empowerment of being of  producers instead of consumers, 100 households that will model a different energy culture.

Beyond that we are also looking into a Solar Community Garden, for those in our towns whose sites are not conducive for solar due to shading, orientation and other issues. The community building potential of this one is immense.

And beyond that, imagine a local mini-grid… We are laying some of the foundations here for one more element in our town’s resilience.

In the first year of its existence, Transition Wayland has primarily been doing a lot of little things: conversations, small manifestations, some skill building, lots of talking, getting to know our people. Lately we’ve stepped it up, with Earth Day (which attracted 400 visitors), and now with the Solarize program. It feels good to have a larger impact, to make a big change. Big changes in small places, they’ll add up.


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