Emily Gaylord, Center for EcoTechnology
413.687.2132 (cell) | 413.586.7350 ext. 236


State, Local Officials Cut Ribbon on Clean Energy System for Amherst Homeowner

 Solar, renewable heating system funded by state program for low-to moderate income residents

Amherst, Mass., October 15, 2018 – State officials from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center today joined representatives from the Center for EcoTechnology and UMass Five Credit Union to celebrate the recent completion of a solar and renewable heating system for a homeowner in Amherst. Paulina Alenkina, a homeowner in Amherst, flipped the switch on her home’s new renewable-powered heating system as part of Solar Access, a state-supported program for homeowners installing solar panels with heat pump technology. The program is funded through the state’s Affordable Clean Residential Energy Program, sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as part of the Baker administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy initiative.

Solar Access is a time-limited pilot program for middle-income homeowners in Massachusetts. There are many programs that offer financial help to pay for a portion of the cost of solar or a cold climate air source heat pump. This program, available to only 100 homeowners, combines solar electric and air source heat pump incentives with a state-sponsored loan to fully finance both technologies. CET, a local non-profit, has partnered with SunBug Solar and Girard Heating and Air Conditioning to bring affordable, renewable energy to those who may not readily be able to purchase this technology. Participants in the program enroll in a UMassFive Credit Union loan and pay less than they spend now on energy costs. To participate, a family of four would need to fall in the income range of $68,289.01 – $91,052.00. Participants can call CET with income-related questions. Alenkina, a CET employee, was one of the first homeowners to sign up. Five more projects will come online this month.

“Participating was a no-brainer,” said homeowner Paulina Alenkina. “My family and I are saving on my energy bills and getting clean energy all at the same time.”

Solar Access is truly a community effort, and is supported by the MassCEC and the DOER.

“By supporting this program, we are able to increase access to clean energy technologies for more Massachusetts residents while advancing the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate agenda,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “As we work to reduce the barriers to clean energy adoption for the state’s low-to moderate income residents, we ensure that more residents across the state will be able to realize the significant economic benefits these technologies can provide, including increased efficiency and lower energy bills.”

Eligible residents will be guided through the program and will benefit from a special Solar Access subsidy in addition to other incentives for renewable energy and cold climate air source heat pumps. CET coordinates with the homeowner to ensure all available incentives are utilized: heat pump rebates, the Mass Solar Loan, Solar SMART incentives and any solar tax credits, with the Solar Access subsidy being used to pay for the first 6 monthly payments to bridge the gap until all incentives are in effect.

“DOER is proud to partner with MassCEC and CET to provide resources that will expand access to clean energy technologies to middle-income homeowners,” said Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “These investments mean real savings for the Commonwealth – not only in emissions and energy use, but will lower residents’ energy bills.”

Alenkina is expected to have a monthly loan payment of $205, and will save $174 in energy costs and receive Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) incentives. Over the next 10 years, she is expected to save $18,460 compared to not participating in the program, including energy savings, SREC incentives, MassCEC incentives, Mass Save incentives, Solar Access incentives, state and federal tax credits, minus the cost of principal and interest.

For this home, the expected energy savings include 5,361 kWh/year of electricity and 370 gallons of oil per year. This represents a savings of 3,983 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year for electricity and 8,321 pounds of CO2 per year for oil, for a total of 12,304 pounds or 5.58 metric tons of CO2 per year. Homeowners can start the process just as Alenkina did, by taking the free solar site assessment online at www.cetonline.org/solaraccess.

“As a non-profit that has been serving the community for over 40 years, CET is excited for the opportunity to help other families like Ms. Alenkina’s be able to afford to take advantage of the benefits of full ownership of solar panels and heat pumps,” said John Majercak, President of the Center for EcoTechnology. “Participants will work with a trusted organization and benefit from significant cost savings, increased comfort and the ability to help our environment. This is an absolutely phenomenal deal and we encourage anyone interested to act now to see if they can benefit from the program,” he continued.

“We know that the cost to heat and power up your home becomes a far greater challenge to meet, the less income you have,” said Richard Kump, President & CEO of UMassFive Credit Union. “That’s why I am so pleased to have UMassFive Credit Union partner in Solar Access, providing the bridge for low and middle-income homeowners. We are using the energy dollars saved over ten years by the more efficient, renewable system to actually pay for the system itself, and the financing is built into the model. It’s a win for the homeowner, a win for the community because those energy dollars can now stay local, and a win for the environment.”

“The process was easy as I had an expert from CET walking me through every step of the program,” said Alenkina. “It made sense, and I never felt lost within the program.”

Potential participants are encouraged to visit CET’s website at cetonline.org/solaraccess and take the free solar site assessment. As this is a pilot program, it’s suggested that potential participants act quickly. CET is also happy to answer questions about the program by phone at 413.341.0418.