Needham Solar Challenge

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Success! Needham residents have earned a free array of 12 solar panels by giving generously to support the development of wind energy in New England. The Community Solar Challenge, sponsored by the state’s renewable energy agency, gave towns the chance to earn solar panels by getting at least 150 local residents to contribute to the New England Wind Fund by June 30. The Green Needham Collaborative, along with the Needham League of Women Voters, led the campaign and succeeded far beyond expectations. By the end of the challenge, 281 residents and businesses had made qualifying donations to the New England Wind Fund. Since all the donations trigger a matching amount paid into an energy fund for Needham, the Town now also has over $21,000 to use for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.


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The Town plans to install the panels at the High Rock School, where the photovoltaic panels will produce approximately 2400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Although this represents only a small portion of the school’s annual energy usage, it is both a symbol of the town’s commitment to clean energy and an important educational resource. A Data Acquisition System software program, included with the system, will give computer access to the panels’ output data, making it possible to integrate a real-life example of solar energy into the science curriculum.



The Solar Challenge may be over, but don’t forget that you can still contribute to the New England Wind Fund. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the State’s renewable energy agency, still matches every Wind Fund donation by putting a dollar for dollar amount into Needham’s Clean Energy Fund.


How is the New England Wind Fund using our donations? The Fund is giving financial support to the Princeton Municipal Light Department, which will erect two 1.5 megawatt turbines in the spring of 2009, thereby becoming the largest wind project in Massachusetts. The Fund is also continuing to negotiate with other project developers.



Updates

July 25, 2008

Needham receives official notification that it has been awarded a 2k solar panel for the Pollard School. Needham's Department of Public Facilities will receive details over the next several weeks. Planning for installation will begin in the early fall as the Department is currently fully committed on the remediation work taking place at the Newman School over the summer.


July 3, 2008

The (extended) Community Solar Challenge program ended on June 30, 2008. Unofficially, Needham recorded 281 qualifying donations to the New England Wind fund. This was more than enough to reach our goal of 150 contributions, which earned us a 2kW solar panel array to be installed at the Pollard Middle School. We did come up just short of the 300 donations that would have given us a second array.


All the donations go to supporting wind energy projects in New England. The Massachausetts Technology Collaborative matches every donation from Needham residents 1:1 into a fund for Needham. This fund can be used by the community in support of alternative energy and related educational projects. We will shortly receive the official accounting of the total funds now available in this fund.


You can help Needham earn an array of solar panels!

Imagine looking up at a school or public building in Needham and seeing an array of solar panels turning the sun's energy into electricity! This would not only be a symbol of the town’s commitment to reducing energy use but it would also be an exciting opportunity to involve local students in the energy of the future.

The Green Needham Collaborative, the Needham League of Women Voters and the Town of Needham have joined with the New England Wind Fund to enter Needham into the New England Wind Fund's Community Solar Challenge.

The Community Solar Challenge is a simple way to support clean energy wind turbine projects in New England and benefit Needham directly. Here's how it works:

  1. By April 30, 2008, 150 Needham households or businesses make qualifying contributions to the New England Wind Find (at least a $5/month automatic deduction or a one-time donation of at least $100).
  2. All contributions go toward clean energy wind turbine projects.
  3. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), a state agency which promotes clean energy, matches the contribution dollar for dollar into an energy fund for Needham. The MTC uses these funds to buy and install a 2kW solar array on a Needham municipal or school building.
  4. Based on the total contributions, additional matching funds will accumulate that can be used for other energy-related projects in Needham.


To join the challenge by making an on-line donation, visit the Needham Community Solar Challenge page at the New England Wind Fund. You may also print out a mail-in donation form.


Promoting the Needham Solar Challenge

The Green Needham Collaborative and the Needham League of Women Voters have a team working to promote the Needham Solar Challenge in the community - we need your ideas and help:

  • Publicizing the Needham Solar Challenge throughout the Community
  • Encouraging friends and neighbors to sign up
  • Sponsoring a talk or presentation to community and civic organizations

If you'd like to help, please contact Eleanor Rosellini by e-mail or at 781 453-9526.