“One Thing You Can Do: Join a Community Solar Farm” – NY Times

Climate change has been a hot topic recently. More people are seeing it impact their daily lives, and school-age protestors like Greta Thunberg who are concerned for their future have kept it in the news. The UN Climate Summit in September ended with a clear lack of commitments from the world leaders most responsible for global carbon output. While it is easy to become frustrated with the slow pace of change, more and more people are taking action as individuals and at the local level to fight climate change.

 A recent article by The New York Times drew attention to community solar as a relatively new and easy way we can make a big impact: “Between half and three-quarters of Americans, according to a report from Wood Mackenzie, can’t install solar panels for various reasons: They rent, their roof is shaded, or they can’t afford it. If you can’t, or don’t want to, install solar panels, there are other options to support solar energy. One is to participate in a community solar project… Most people see savings of about 10 percent to 15 percent on their electric bills, said Jeff Cramer, executive director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access. And, unlike with rooftop solar, there’s no upfront cost.”

Most people have not heard about community solar, and many are skeptical it could actually exist. The article addresses this as well: “Sound too good to be true? The catch is that community solar is still in its infancy. While most states have at least one project online, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted community solar legislation, and a smaller number have statewide programs up and running. In total, Mr. Cramer estimated that fewer than 10 percent of Americans have access to community solar.”

Massachusetts is one of those 19 states. It has had community solar available for a few years now, and with the state’s new SMART legislation more community solar will be coming online within the next year.

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

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AUBUCHON HARDWARE AND RELAY POWER ANNOUNCE COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP

Aubuchon Hardware and Relay Power Announce Community Solar Partnership

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
AUBUCHON HARDWARE AND RELAY POWER ANNOUNCE COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP

Aubuchon Hardware and Relay Power have entered into a partnership agreement to get the word out to Aubuchon customers and employees about the opportunity to sign up for Relay Power Community Solar. Those who participate will receive guaranteed savings on their electricity, while supporting and facilitating clean energy production here in Massachusetts. Participants will also receive a gift card to use at any Aubuchon Hardware location. The solar farms are all located in Massachusetts. All National Grid electricity and Western Massachusetts Eversource electricity customers are eligible to participate.

“Relay Power is very pleased to partner with Aubuchon Hardware on this exciting partnership,” said Bill Kanzer, Co-Founder at Relay Power. “Connecting the Aubuchon Hardware customers and employees to community solar farms provides them with additional value – both in savings and in being able to help combat climate change and other pollution.”

Aubuchon Hardware Vice President of Marketing, Mike Mattson added, “This is a great partnership. I particularly love how, through Relay Power, we now have the ability to provide our customers with a great electricity option that provides both value to their wallets and the environment.”

Qualified residents who sign up for the solar program will receive discounted credits from their solar farm on their monthly electric bills while supporting clean, local solar power in Massachusetts. Interested residents can contact Relay Power for a free consultation about the solar opportunity by visiting www.relaypower.com/aubuchon, or by calling 617-315-4980 and mentioning the Aubuchon Rewards offer.

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For additional press information please contact:

Bill Kanzer, President, Relay Power
781-530-4525
marketing@relaypower.com

Mike Mattson, Vice President of Marketing, Aubuchon Hardware
978-874-0521 x1119
mmattson@aubuchon.com

About Relay Power
Relay Power’s mission is to engage residential customers to power their homes with clean, local renewable power using simple, accessible and affordable options. The Relay Power team has contracted residential and small commercial customers for over 30 MW of Community Solar projects to date. To learn more about Relay Power please visit www.relaypower.com/aubuchon.

About Aubuchon Hardware
Founded in 1908, in Fitchburg, MA, Aubuchon Hardware is the oldest family-owned and managed hardware store chain in America. With more than 100 stores in New England and Upstate New York, Aubuchon has been a mainstay for generations. Aubuchon relies on convenient in-town locations, personalized customer service and its HardwareStore.com e-commerce site.
www.hardwarestore.com

PR NEWSWIRE: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aubuchon-hardware-and-relay-power-announce-community-solar-partnership-300904832.html

A Toolkit to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Most people would like to be more environmentally friendly – according to Pew, 74% of Americans polled thought “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” and 55% thought the environment should be the top priority for policy in Washington. While policy is important, the environment is one area that individuals can make a big impact with their own choices. But it can be challenging to know where to start, or what changes are actually the most impactful to make. Here is a list of some great resources to get you started.

  1. Know Your Impact

The best place to start is to find out where you stand. The EPA has a calculator to find out your carbon footprint: epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/ This is a great starting point because the calculator breaks things down by categories like transportation, housing, etc. so you’ll be able to tell what’s contributing most to your carbon footprint and where you can make adjustments for the best results.

  1. Get a Guide

The issues facing our planet are overwhelming and complicated, and sometimes the advice out there can seem contradictory. Is it better to use an old car as long as possible to avoid making a new one, or to get a hybrid or electric car to reduce gas? Should we stop shopping online to reduce packaging and shipping emissions, or is it more efficient to have things delivered to you rather than driving around for errands? There are guides out there for the consumer and lifestyle choices we make, for example “Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living,” published by the Union of Concerned Scientists: amzn.to/2Y0eqCj

  1. Find a Group

Joining an organization that shares your concern for the environment is a great way to stay motivated and make a difference. Sites like idealist.org will connect you to local volunteering opportunities. You can also join groups like the Sierra Club (sierraclub.org) that do meaningful work for the environment, host local events, and can connect you to more resources.

  1. Choose Clean Energy

Depending on where you live, there are many ways to choose cleaner energy. In Massachusetts and several other states, community or shared solar is a way to support clean energy locally while sharing in the financial and environmental benefits of solar. 

 

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

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electricity customer

How Third-Party Suppliers Soured the Clean Energy Market

Or

A Guide to Choosing Clean Power in MA

Utilities and energy are a complicated space, and for a busy consumer it can be confusing when trying to make a switch to cleaner energy. In particular, third party suppliers with inflated rates and shady tactics have been an ongoing problem in Massachusetts. Poor experiences with them have turned many customers into skeptics, but there are legitimate ways to reduce your carbon footprint with your electricity choices.

What is competitive supply?

Utility bills are split into two parts – delivery and supply. Delivery is what you pay the utility to be connected to their grid, and have energy brought to your home. Supply is what you pay for the actual energy you use. By default you get your “supply” from the utility itself, but to try and avoid monopolies, Massachusetts also allows what is called “competitive supply” or “third-party supply.” This means getting  the supply portion of your bill from another company that’s not the utility. The problem comes when this supplier has a variable rate – that is, their pricing is set “…at the discretion of the competitive supplier.” Some residents that have used these suppliers may have joined looking at a rate that was much lower than the utilities, only to have it jump up above the utility “standard offer” rate a short time later, leaving them worse off than they started.

What are legitimate clean energy offerings?

Some suppliers may market as being a clean energy offering, but they usually have a mix of energy that is not 100% renewable, and they will often be priced at a slight premium. There are better ways to know you’re choosing clean energy.

Solar

Perhaps the most obvious one is to install a solar array yourself – you know what’s being produced is clean energy that’s feeding directly into your meter. But for many people, solar requires good credit or a large upfront payment or their home is not sited well for solar.

RECs

A REC, or Renewable Energy Certificate, is defined by Mass Climate Action as  “… proof of purchase for the attributes of renewable energy generation.” An individual, company, or nonprofit that wants to cut their carbon footprint can buy RECs to offset their usage. This is a way to directly support clean power projects because the project owner gets the money for the RECs, thereby raising the project’s value.

Community Solar

Community solar, or community shared solar (CSS,) is a way to share the benefits of a solar array with multiple participants in a given region. Participants generally save money by getting a discount for on-bill credits that offset their utility bill. A host with good siting for solar will install the array; this installation is supported by the participants who invest or buy credit from the farm. This form of solar is meant as a solution for those who cannot install a solar array themselves. Currently this is one of the best ways to both support local, clean solar energy and benefit by getting electricity bill savings.

You can help make good energy choices by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

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Everett Advocate touts the city’s Community Shared Solar program

The April 26, 2019 issue of the Everett Advocate highlights Relay Power’s role in bringing Community Solar to Everett, MA, and describes how the program is a win/win for the City as well as it’s residents.

Read the pdf below or at the Advocate’s link.

Everett Advocate

See how you can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

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How Rooftop Solar Companies are Complementing Community Solar

There’s no question that solar is booming. Over the past ten years, the industry has seen an “…Average annual growth rate of 50%…” and now employs over 242,000 people in the United States. Even with this boom, there is still a huge amount of unmet need when it comes to solar. Rooftop solar installers and community solar companies can work together to move the country towards a clean energy future. In fact, a number of rooftop solar companies profit by referring customers to community solar when they can’t or won’t install on their home.

Community Solar Complements Rooftop Solar

A recent survey of solar installers revealed that traditional rooftop solar installers don’t view community solar as competition. In fact, rooftop solar companies had a overwhelmingly positive response to community solar. That’s because community solar serves different customers that rooftop can’t. According to the US Census, about forty percent of Americans live in housing that would not support a solar array. And even for those who do, obstacles like finances, structural concerns and shading prevent a majority of customers from taking advantage of the environmental and financial advantages of rooftop solar. Community solar can fill this gap, removing financial and siting obstacles that customers face when looking to make clean energy choices.

Community Solar Builds Awareness and Normalizes Solar

The survey also points out another major benefit to community solar. Having large public arrays like the ones along the Massachusetts Turnpike help to normalize solar. The more arrays there are, the more people will think of solar as a regular fact of life, rather than a futuristic and expensive pipe dream. These arrays can act as advertisement too, sparking interest for both potential rooftop and community solar customers as they pass by them.

We’ve Only Scratched the Surface

There’s good synergy between rooftop solar installers and community solar, and the market is still mostly untapped. In 2018, the United States only got 1.6% of its electricity from solar, while 76% of voters support increasing solar capacity. Both types of solar should find ways to work together to transform our energy grid.

If your rooftop solar company would like to learn how to profit from community solar, Learn More

Or contact us to become a partner.

And nearly everyone can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

Solar is Becoming Cost-Effective in More Places

Incentive-free solar projects are becoming more common. Unsubsidized developments in favorable climates like southern Europe have already achieved price parity with other types of energy, and the falling cost of solar installations is making this feasible in more places.

Northern Europe

  • A German utility signed a contract earlier this year for an eighty five megawatt solar farm in Northern Germany without incentives.
  • There are also two farms planned for the U.K. in York and Kingston upon Hull.
    • The incentive-free system in York will be “37.4 megawatts of PV tied to a 27-megawatt, 30-megawatt-hour Samsung battery system, the largest solar-paired energy storage asset in the country.

Alberta

  • Alberta’s Ministry of Infrastructure has agreed to buy the energy produced by a 94 megawatt solar installation, which is being installed without the assistance of incentives.
  • The installation is using solar panels which can produce on both sides, making use of the reflected light from long lasting snow.
  • The installations are 50% owned by the Conklin Métis, an indigenous community from the oil-sands region of Alberta.

China

  • China has been aggressively installing clean energy, but caused concern in the solar world last year when they halted incentives due to the large bill from so many projects.
    • Their solution to continue rapid development while keeping costs in check is to develop several pilots for incentive-free solar.
    • “The new subsidy-free projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidised coal-fired power plants, and will not have to comply with capacity quota restrictions…”

It’s clear that even in snowy northern climates, solar is a viable option. And as costs continue to come down, more and more solar won’t need assistance, subsidies or incentives to compete with fossil fuels.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
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solar field

Climate Change isn’t the whole problem

So much of the discussion around clean energy currently focuses on climate change and pricing, but we shouldn’t forget another important reason to “go green” – pollution. Fossil fuels and nuclear produce dangerous pollutants which have a direct impact on our health and the sustainability of our planet.

Coal

  • Coal use is declining, but we still get almost 30% of the country’s power from it.
  • Coal extraction uses harmful techniques such as mountaintop removal and strip mining, which pollutes water sources and damages ecosystems.
    • Underground coal mines pose threats to safety from collapse and methane leaks.
  • Burning coal releases heavy metals such as mercury, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates
    • These pollutants are linked to respiratory illness, neurological damage, smog and acid rain.

Natural Gas

  • Natural gas burns cleaner and more efficiently than coal, but it still emits pollutants and accounts for about 32% of our energy.
  • The extraction of natural gas can be problematic.
    • Laying pipelines to transport natural gas requires clearing land, and when the pipelines leak they release methane, a strong greenhouse gas.
    • Hydrogren sulfide is burned off, or “flared,” when extracting natural gas, which releases varying pollutants
    • Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, uses a fluid that contains unknown chemicals – only 28 states require the disclosure of some of the chemicals in fracking fluid. This fluid can leak and pollute water supplies.
  • Fracking has also resulted in earthquakes at wastewater injection sites.

Nuclear

  • Some says nuclear energy could help with climate change, but we should not take the potential health risks lightly.
  • Used nuclear fuel emits dangerous levels of radiation long after it’s used and there is currently no long-term solution on where and how to store this waste.
  • Nuclear meltdowns may be relatively infrequent or unlikely, but when they happen they’re disastrous.
    • Incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl have a high human cost, and render cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.

Solar is a Solution

  • The guaranteed lifespan of solar panels is twenty to twenty-five years, which is much better than many consumer electronics such as cell phones or laptops, and in many cases they can be recycled.
  • Using the sun for energy doesn’t emit water, air, or carbon pollution.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

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Everett, MA

Everett Mayor Announces Community Solar Partnership

Everett is Going Green

This past Wednesday, Mayor DeMaria announced that Everett has decided to purchase solar energy credits from solar farms built by Syncarpha here in Massachusetts. He cited the effects a changing climate has on a coastal community like Everett, including increased flooding and storms. Taking the city solar will also have cost-savings that can be put to use elsewhere in the budget.

Residents Can Participate Too

These farms are also open to any MA residents served by National Grid electricity, and Mayor DeMaria encouraged Everett to join him in choosing clean energy: “I hope our residents will take advantage of the residential portion of the Community Shared Solar opportunity to purchase clean, renewable, solar energy credits. Those who opt into the new residential program will also save money.”

How Does it Work?

Residential community solar is a relatively new offering in Massachusetts. Many homeowners have investigated rooftop solar but found that their roof wasn’t well suited for it, or that the arrays were too expensive. Community solar offers a much simpler way to “go solar.” Residents receive discounted credits on their electric bill, based on what their “share” of the solar farm produces – giving them guaranteed savings. There are no upfront costs and there is no installation required. Joining a community solar farm not only supports clean energy, it has economic benefits right here in Massachusetts.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

Customer Success Stories

“We have a challenging roof that prohibits rooftop solar. So I love that Relay Power offers an alternative. On top of helping the environment, we save money, which is a great bonus.” – Greg N. from Beverly

 

 

“This was a great opportunity to take meaningful action to reduce our carbon footprint, with the added benefit of actually paying less for the energy I use at home. It’s a no-brainer for those looking to live more sustainably. For a long time, we have been looking into solar panels for our house but for one reason or another haven’t been able to pull the trigger. This is a great alternative.” – Michelle L., Manchester, MA

 

 

“The process was quick and easy really. My wife and I both work full time and we have two kids under five, so I’m usually not into things that are time intensive. I would recommend this to my family and friends.” – Matt P. from Beverly