Grants Heat Up Solar Industry in Massachusetts

Renewable Energy Trust Director Rob Pratt joined leaders in the Massachusetts solar industry at ASE Americas, Inc in Billerica last week to announce US$2.6 million worth of grants to help drive down the cost of installing solar photovoltaic panels on homes and businesses in clustered regions throughout the state.

Billerica, Massachusetts – October 14, 2002 [] The grants are part of the Renewable Energy Trust (RET) US$10 million Solar-to-Market Initiative, which is among the largest public investments ever in the solar photovoltaic industry in New England. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative manages the US$150 million Renewable Energy Trust. “This funding provides an important infusion of capital to help the solar industry create new high-tech jobs in Massachusetts,” said Pratt. “In addition to the economic benefits, this initiative will produce environmental rewards by making it easier and cheaper for people to harness the sun’s rays to power their homes and businesses.” The grants will stimulate new economic development activity in dozens of communities across the state. The RET is providing immediate financial support to the PV industry for projects with a clear path to commercial viability and job creation. The following six organizations were awarded grant funding through a competitive process: -Cape & Islands Self Reliance Corp. received US$525,000 for approximately 100 PV installations on homes and businesses on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard; -Center for Ecological Technology received US$325,000 for 5 or 6 larger PV installations on farms, businesses and institutions such as colleges in Berkshire County -Conservation Services Group received US$397,173 for 38 PV systems built as integrated components of new homes in Northampton, Townsend, and Wrentham -Cooperative Development Institute received US$350,000 for 25 PV systems on homes and businesses in the Franklin County Regional Council of Governments area which includes all of Franklin County as well as Phillipston, Athol, and Amherst -Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance received US$525,000 for approximately 40 PV systems installed on City of Newton buildings, plus homes and businesses in Boston, Newton, Brookline and Somerville -Massachusetts Institute of Technology received grants totaling US$455,701 for 40 PV installations on the MIT campus as well as on schools, homes, and businesses in Cambridge, Watertown, Arlington, Lexington, and Waltham The RET is working with industry leaders and world-class academic institutions to reduce transaction costs through concentrated marketing and installation density, while also cutting through red-tape that hinders expansion of the PV industry. The initiative is expected to generate new enthusiasm among consumers in targeted areas leading to the installation of nearly 250 PV systems. The awards were announced at the semi-annual meeting of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE). The grant funding helps Massachusetts solar companies, which employ close to 500 people. SEBANE is promoting and positioning the solar industry to compete effectively in the global marketplace. “These grants will stimulate PV installations across the state. Other aspects of the Trust’s Solar-to-Market initiative, such as reducing regulatory obstacles and creating a loan fund, are equally important. The combined effect of all these projects plus our constantly-evolving technology new products and more-efficient manufacturing will make Massachusetts’ PV industry robust and competitive,” said SEBANE Vice-President Moneer Azzam. The Solar-to-Market Initiative also features a US$5.3 million loan fund supporting manufacturers, research & development, supply companies and other solar PV businesses in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts PV industry has annual sales of over US$43 million with 78 percent of this business from exports. The industry provides hundreds of manufacturing, installation, and service jobs in Massachusetts. Additional funds totaling US$600,000 will also be made available to support initiatives that affect the supply and demand sides of the solar industry including public education programs, training programs for solar installers, inspectors, and utility representatives, as well as metering and evaluation programs to document PV system performance.
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