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Northampton may seek ‘solarize’ designation from state

If a group of energy-conscious residents get their way, the city may soon be one of a handful of communities to earn a “solarize” designation from the state.

A team of volunteer residents and the city are applying to participate in Solarize Massachusetts, a state program that encourages the adoption of small-scale solar photovoltaic systems.

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.

“It’s a good deal,” volunteer Susan Lantz told the City Council last week. “There’s going to be a lot of competition applying for this.”

The Solarize Massachusetts program began in 2011 on a pilot basis with four communities, including Hatfield. Another 17 communities joined last year. The state’s Clean Energy Center and Department of Energy Resources will select a minimum of 16 communities to participate this year, spread over two rounds.

To apply, the city needs to document community interest in solar electricity. Officials are asking residents to complete a three-question survey by visiting the Solarize Northampton website.

— CHAD CAIN

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