NEWBURYPORT — A waiting list is now open for residents interested in subscribing to the city’s new community solar electricity program.
The city has partnered with Nexamp to offer the program, which allows Newburyport residents to subscribe at no cost to a share of a community solar farm in Sutton and lower their electricity costs without installing solar panels.
After two information meetings held earlier this month, spots in the program are filling up fast. Molly Ettenborough, the city’s recycling and energy manager, said about 50 residents attended each of Nexamp’s recent sessions and the program was generally well-received.
“Of course, people wanted to know what the risks are, but I think everyone was pretty positive. It’s a great program,” Ettenborough said, noting that prior to the first meeting, 30 of the 100 available subscriptions were already taken by city residents.
Residents still interested in the program may now sign up online to be put on a waiting list, which will be open through Dec. 16.
The city recently partnered with Nexamp and became a buyer of solar credits toward Newburyport Public Schools’ energy usage. Coupled with its solar programs at Nock and Molin schools and the Salisbury solar farm, the city’s municipal energy load is now close to 60% renewable.
The new community solar farm is under construction in Sutton and will add 1 megawatt of clean energy to the National Grid electric network, enough to power more than 100 homes.
The city is subscribing to reduce its municipal electric costs and support clean energy. As part of the agreement between the city and Nexamp, a portion of the farm has been reserved for Newburyport residents.
Eligible Newburyport residents can enroll in the program with no upfront cost and no long-term commitment. Openings are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Community solar makes the benefits of solar more accessible to those who do not have a roof suitable for solar panels, or who rent their home or apartment, or may not have the resources to purchase solar panels, according to the city.
Subscribers earn credits on their electrical utility bill for the energy produced by their solar farm share, and Nexamp offers a 15% discount on those credits.
“The big takeaways are that you don’t have to install any equipment on your house, there’s no upfront costs, you save on your electricity, and you’re supporting solar, which is great,” Ettenborough said.
She said the program will likely begin for Newburyport residents in the spring once construction of the solar farm is completed.
“Once the solar farm goes online, participants will get enrolled,” Ettenborough said. “It’s all online, so you’ll get your contract and they’ll explain everything.”
She also said the program is tied to homeowners rather than their home; if participants move within National Grid territory, they would be able to bring Nexamp’s service with them.
For more information or to check eligibility, residents can visit solar.nexamp.com/Newburyport.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.