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Alicia Barton: Response to article about Solarize Mass program

To the Editor:

In response to the June 11 article about the Solarize Mass program under way in Northampton:

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources launched the Solarize Mass program to give residents and businesses access to low-cost solar electricity and expand the adoption of clean energy in Massachusetts. By design, this is a community-based program where decision-making is local. The program has a track record of creating new business opportunities for local solar installers. We’re happy to report five of the six installers selected in 2013 to serve the 10 communities are Massachusetts based.

Since the program began three years ago, 13 installers (nine Massachusetts-based companies) have participated, including Northeast Solar Design.

In all Solarize Mass communities, a team of local volunteers and representatives choose a designated installer after an open, competitive bidding process. Each municipality selects the company it believes will make the program most successful in its community.

As part of the review process, installers are evaluated on pricing, proposal quality, experience and marketing plans. The top three installers are invited back for interviews with local officials. The city of Northampton was thorough and took into account the community’s energy needs and goals.

Six of the 10 communities participating in this year’s program did not base their selection on the lowest-priced bidder. Northampton’s review committee opted for Real Goods Solar, which offers financing options that allows more business owners and residents, including those on fixed incomes.

The Solarize Mass program has allowed hundreds of residents to take control of their energy future, keeping more energy dollars in Massachusetts and creating local jobs.

While we understand Northeast Solar Design’s frustration about not being selected as part of this round, there is still an opportunity to participate. We hope the company will apply again in the next round of Solarize Mass planned for later this year.

Alicia Barton, CEO MassCEC

Mark Sylvia, Commissioner DER

Matt Kakley, communication coordinator

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