Mendon’s ‘Green’ status may mean cheap solar energy for town

March 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Local environmentalists are hopeful residents will jump on an opportunity to buy cheap solar panels for their homes and businesses.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center last month asked 86 eligible cities and towns designated as “Green Communities” to show local interest in investing in solar energy, which converts sunlight into electricity.

In return, the state will lend a hand in providing about 10 towns with cheaper solar panels.

“Only Green Communities can apply to this program,” said Anne Mazar, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, which led the way for Mendon’s status as a state official Green Community. “I think it is a real opportunity for residents who are interested in solar energy.”

Last year, the Clean Energy Center conducted a pilot program in Harvard, Winchester, Scituate and Hatfield.

Solar panels can reduce electricity costs and improve home values, according to the Clean Energy Center.

If the town applies for the program, and is accepted, residents would be able to get lower installation costs, streamlined permitting, and financial assistance from state and federal Solar Renewable Energy Certificates.

Mazar said there are currently five buildings in town that have solar panels, including Vandervalk Tree Farm on Lovell Street, Bethany Community Church on Cape Road, and Mazar’s home on Pleasant Street.

Carolyn Barthel of Asylum Street is very eager for the town to embrace this project.

She’s been interested in solar energy since her father had a solar-powered water heater when she was growing up.

“It was so cool the way the panels ‘performed magic’ and heated our water. I absolutely feel passionate about it,” she said.

Although she does not have solar panels on her home, she hopes to eventually install them, perhaps with the help of the state initiative.

“I started exploring the idea years ago, but the incentives weren’t there, and it seemed the payback would take much too long. Now there are enough state and federal incentives, and rebates and credits, so the pay back is vastly improved,” she said.

Barthel put a plea out to the public via the town’s website, asking residents to email her with their contact information and addresses.

There was also a Facebook page set up as part of the outreach.

Since March 1, she has heard from about 50 residents who are interested in installing solar panels at their homes.

The deadline for the town to send a proposal to the state is March 21.

The state agency will inform communities whether they got into the program by March 29.

Until then, Barthel and Mazar will focus on getting interested residents to speak up.

“The more people we get, the stronger case we can make for our enthusiasm for this program, and the more people we get in the program, the better the pricing will be,” Barthel said.

Morgan Rousseau can be reached at 508-634-7546 or at

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