Customer Review: Massachusetts Condo Owner Adopts Community Solar to ‘Go Solar’ – Without Any Rooftop Panels

As a condo owner, Catherine L. of Natick, Mass. was unsure of the energy efficiency measures she could take. Every decision had to be passed by her condo association.

Her particular condo has individual units attached side-by-side and one freestanding unit, which is where Catherine lives. Because of these restrictions, Catherine wasn’t sure if she was able to get rooftop solar panels, but was interested in greening her lifestyle in any way possible. But after completing an initial home energy assessment, Catherine didn’t know if there were any other steps she could take. That is, until a routine visit to her local Stop & Shop spurred a conversation with an outreach representative. There, she learned that she could qualify for a new way of “going solar” – community solar.

Solar Garden Opens Up Opportunity for More Sustainable Lifestyle

After hearing about this new possibility of “going solar,” Catherine scheduled a phone call with a member of the community solar team, who walked her through how community solar worked during two separate phone calls. Her community solar advisor, explained that as an Eversource ratepayer, she was eligible for community solar (or “shared” solar), which allows users to buy net metering credits representative of solar power from a utility company. That power comes from a remotely-located solar garden.

“Whenever I encounter a person who can’t go solar because of trees blocking their roof, or who don’t like the look of solar panels I tell them: You can still go solar. And then I tell them about my experience.”

Catherine L.
Natick, Mass.
Condo Owner

“The call was informative and friendly,” Catherine says. “It wasn’t pushy at all, and my initial response was ‘OK, someone is thinking.’ There were solar farms going up like crazy, and I thought that this idea of community solar was a great one.”

During her call, Catherine was able to view a presentation about community solar online via her home computer, while the advisor walked her through an explanation of community solar, and was available to answer any questions she still had at the end of the presentation. That was it: No in-person visit was needed, and no one had to come to her home to evaluate her roof. To sign up, Catherine says, was really a “no-brainer.”

Solar Power Fosters Sense of Community for Town

Catherine says years ago she only saw one solar array in her neighborhood. But now, she can count five off the top of her head that have adopted rooftop solar panels. Still, she sees more opportunity for people to go solar with community solar, if panels aren’t an option.

“In Massachusetts, I do feel like our community is starting to adopt solar more readily,” she says. “I was always interested in solar, but until I learned about community solar, there was a big question mark hanging over my head about how to do it for myself.”

A few months after signing up for community solar, Catherine opted to go a presentation about solar panels with a fellow Natick resident. There, she learned that because of special attributes in her particular condo complex, she actually could have gotten solar panels installed on her roof. But Catherine has no regrets.

“Going solar is simply the right thing to do,” she says. “Whenever I encounter a person who can’t go solar because of trees blocking their roof, or who don’t like the look of solar panels I tell them: You can still go solar. And then I tell them about my experience.”

Her garden, in the NEMA load zone, is slated to go live by the end of the year. After construction is finished and the remote solar panels are activated, Catherine can start to enjoy the power of “going solar” – without any rooftop panels.

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