NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 15, 2012

Newburyporters increase solar output 6-fold

NEWBURYPORT — The city has finished its effort to inspire homeowners and businesses to install solar arrays on their buildings, and the results will burn bright for years to come.

In the course of about six months, the number of private buildings with solar arrays has more than quadrupled to 61, and the amount of energy that can be produced has increased six-fold, to 423 kilowatt hours. That’s about enough energy to power almost 40 homes over the course of a year, according to statistics from the U.S. Energy Administration.

Newburyport was one of 17 communities selected across the state to take part in Solarize Massachusetts, a state-run program that offered reduced costs and tax incentives for solar arrays. The program’s sign-up period expired earlier this month.

“This was a real community effort,” said Jill Haley Murphy, a Newburyport resident and the co-chair of the Solarize Newburyport committee. “The response we got was tremendous.”

The committee held informational sessions explaining the nuts and bolts of installing a solar array, and set up a booth at the Newburyport Farmers Market. Attendance at the sessions was strong, Haley Murphy noted.

But unfortunately, not everyone who wanted a solar array could get one, she said. Roof architecture, the orientation of the building, and shade trees play a major factor in whether a solar array can be installed.

“Some people were disappointed that they couldn’t put a solar array on their home,” she said. Haley Murphy was among them — shade trees next to her home make it impossible to install the panels.

The upfront cost was daunting for some. It required a $1,000 upfront payment.

But for others, the arrays have worked out great.

“The general vibe we get from people when we install them is, ‘Thank goodness,’” said Ben Mayer of Sunbug Solar, the company that installed the arrays in Newburyport. The process of filling out paperwork and getting permits can be long, but Mayer said when the arrays finally go up on buildings, the company sees “many, many happy customers.”

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