Hilltown Voices: Solar signups deemed success

Last modified: Saturday, August 23, 2014
In the latest round of Solarize Massachusetts, Chesterfield and Williamsburg added a total of 58 households that will install solar electricity systems.

Solar coaches in both communities said that the number of households to sign up to install solar panels on their homes far exceeded their expectations.

“We did great!” said Chesterfield solar coach Joe Gazillo. “For a small town to have this type of participation is phenomenal.”

Gazillo said Chesterfield has approximately 550 households, though only some of the homes would be situated to accommodate solar panels.

A total of 12 households in Chesterfield signed up to install solar panels on their homes, while in Williamsburg, 46 out of roughly 840 households signed contracts to install solar arrays.

“This really exceeded all of our expectations,” said Marci Caplis, solar coach for Williamsburg.

Several months ago, Williamsburg and Chesterfield joined together with Whately to apply for the Solarize Massachusetts program. Taken separately, none of the individual towns would have qualified for the program, which requires the community to have a minimum of 1,000 owner-occupied homes.

In Whately, 27 households signed on to the program.

Together, homeowners in the three towns will install 85 solar systems, which will generate 589 kilowatts of power.

In its fourth year, the Solarize Massachusetts program is a partnership between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, and cities and towns throughout the state.

The program uses a competitive tiered pricing structure. The more contracts signed in a participating town or group of towns, the less individual homeowners and businesses pay to purchase or lease a solar energy system.

“We have reached tier 5, which means that we are now at the lowest price offered for installation,” Gazillo said.

The most recent round of Solarize Massachusetts, which concluded June 30, saw 932 residents and businesses state-wide contracting to install solar electricity systems. Final tallies were released in mid- July.

Started as a pilot program in 2011, Solarize Mass has added nearly 2,450 solar systems across the state with 16 MW of electricity capacity, which represents enough greenhouse gas emission reductions to offset pollution from more than 1,500 cars, according to Solarize statistics.

“The installations are happening now. Mine was done a week ago and we have already generated more energy in a week than we would use in a month,” Caplis said. “It is a great feeling to know that we are not using fossil fuels, and it just feels like the right thing to do.”


Adult nurse practitioner

The Huntington Health Centers has recently hired Jonathan Liebman as a nurse practitioner.

“He comes with a lot of experience in providing primary care, particularly around the quality and management and care for chronic conditions,” said Eliza Lake, interim executive director of the Hilltown Community Health Centers.

Liebman graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1987 and from the Yale School of Nursing as an adult nurse practitioner in 1998. He has worked in both public health and primary care roles, and is especially interested in chronic disease management, including diabetes and HIV.

“We currently have two other NPs that will be starting in the next few months,” Lake said. “It is very exciting and it feels good to be able to fulfill our patients needs.”

Hilltown Community Health Center has been operating in the Hilltowns since 1950. The center is open six days a week, accepts a wide variety of health insurance plans, including MassHealth, and provides free and reduced-fee care to those who meet income guidelines.


Webb art show

For the month of September, the Neil Hammer Gallery at the Meekins Library will feature the work of local artist Carolyn Webb.

Webb is a multi-media artist who will display a selection of woodcuts, linocuts and photopolymer etchings in her show entitled “New Prints”.

An artist reception is planned for Sept. 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Fran Ryan can be reached at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.