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20 homeowners join Solarize Northampton

If installed, these arrays represent 109 kilowatts of solar energy, but local solar coach Susan Lantz said the Solarize Northampton team anticipates more homeowners will sign on in the coming weeks as the group continues to promote the financial and environmental advantages of doing so.

“With an increased focus on solar energy, people are galvanized into action,” Lantz said. “Perhaps they have been thinking of solar for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to researching it.”

The first of two upcoming events is scheduled for Saturday, where the local solar team will sponsor an open house at the home of Josh and Beth Roth at 153 Franklin St. The Roths will show off and talk about the solar panels they installed in 2011. The open house runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Then on Sunday, July 28, the solar team will hold a Solar Fest at Look Park. In addition to learning about the Solarize Mass program and the solar options available for homeowners through it, the event will include solar panel displays, solar car races and hands-on solar toys.

The event is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. near the park’s train station.

Earlier this spring, the city was accepted as one of 10 communities to participate in the latest round of the state program, which helps homeowners buy small-scale solar photovoltaic systems at a discount through a group purchasing model.

A local committee recently chose Real Goods Solar to install the solar panels for participating city residents and small business owners. That Colorado company is offering options for people wishing to either buy a photovoltaic system outright or lease one through what’s known as a power purchase agreement, or PPA. The arrangement makes it easier for homeowners to take advantage of solar without the up-front costs.

Homeowners may end up saving more money through the installation process by inking contracts through Solarize Mass, depending on how many people end up signing on. Installation costs decrease as the contracted kilowatt hours increase. Additionally, Lantz said many homeowners who have signed up will take advantage of federal and state tax credits, state rebates, and solar renewable energy certificates.

“The rate of return on your solar investment is very attractive even without the Solarize Mass program,” Lantz said.

Solarize Mass is a partnership between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state Department of Energy Resources Green Communities Division, local officials and community volunteers.

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