Four MetroWest communities have teamed up in an effort to offer residents a better deal on clean energy technology.
Known as the Metro-West 2021 Regional Solar and Clean Energy Challenge, officials from Framingham, Ashland, Natick and Holliston have sent out a request for proposal (RFP) for installers of solar panels and air source and ground source heat pumps.
The goal is to provide MetroWest residents and small businesses an opportunity to invest in such technologies at the same competitive base price.
“This program is similar to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Solarize Massachusetts Plus, and HeatSmart Massachusetts programs,” reads a portion of the RFP.
The municipalities hope to be able to announce their chosen installer by the end of next month. At that point, a customer sign-up period will begin and run until March 2022.
Ashland officials spearheaded the project.
Frank Nakashian, Ashland’s sustainability coordinator, said the communities had already been collaborating on some other projects with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
“We’ve figured it would make sense, as opposed to going it alone, for a program that we could join forces on,” he said.
All four municipalities have been designated as Green Communities by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and have set their own energy goals. As a Green Community, municipalities can take advantage of state grants and have committed to meeting certain environmental and energy goals.
Jillian Wilson-Martin, Natick’s sustainability coordinator, said the municipalities in the future be able to save time and share resources by working together.
Lining up installers can take a lot of time, she said. The project is helping speed up the process for everyone and helping to get more clean energy technology in homes and commercial businesses faster.
“One of the reasons we’re all excited about this is because it very much ties to our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals,” she said.
Holliston Sustainability Coordinator Matt Zettek said by partnering the municipalities have the potential to lower the cost of those technologies to residents and commercial business.
“Basically, by doing this together, we should help lower the costs for the folks we’re helping through this program,” he said.
An added component to the RFP is the request for the installer to host educational webinars to help inform the public about the benefits of the clean energy technology, Nakashian said.
“For instance, the vendors will conduct ‘Meet the Installer’ events in addition to appearances at farmers markets and other outreach events where they can answer questions that any residents may have,” he said. “In addition, community volunteers will be able to answer questions from interested residents. These outreach events will provide value by providing opportunity for interested residents to ask questions on variables such as utility costs, maintenance, energy savings, home valuation estimates after installation, etc. Vendors will also demonstrate cost competitiveness by offering system prices lower than typically offered.”
The RFP will be open until Wednesday.
Cesareo Contreras can be reached at 508-626-3957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cesareo_r.