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State to host Solarize Mass forum in Northampton Tuesday

— State officials from the Clean Energy Center will hold a public forum Tuesday to introduce residents to a program that will enable them to “go solar” at discounted prices.

The city is one of 10 communities to participate in the latest round of Solarize Mass, a state initiative that helps homeowners buy small-scale photovoltaic systems.

Tuesday’s forum, dubbed Solar 101, is a primer on the Solarize Mass model. The forum will also include solar electricity basics and an outline of different incentives available.

The two-hour forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the JFK Middle School community room.

Under the Solarize Mass program, a city Solarize Northampton team will work with the Clean Energy Center and the state Department of Energy Resources to select one installer who would provide specific prices for solar panel installation in a bulk-buy format.

Susan Lantz, a member of a solarize coach team that will shepherd the project, said the group expects to select that installer later this month. Once that happens, the Clean Energy Center will hold another forum to introduce the installer and provide more specifics for homeowners.

She said interest in the program has been strong this spring.

“This is really the time to go solar and to do it with neighbors,” Lantz said.

The program can lower the cost of installing solar systems and save customers money on their electricity bills, depending on how many residents and businesses contract for solar. Prices would be tiered and would drop as more residents and businesses sign contracts.

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