Governor Deval Patrick has committed to achieving 1,600 megawatts of solar installations by 2020 in Massachusetts, and we are well on our way. Massachusetts has actually exceeded previous solar energy goals at a faster pace than expected, so now more progressive goals have been set.

There are federal, state and city programs with the sole mission of making solar power possible in the Boston area – not to mention countless nonprofit groups. One such program is the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Solarize Mass. Solarize Mass gets communities involved in competitive tiered pricing for solar that helps make sure all involved neighborhoods see the maximum amount of savings possible through energy savings. Through the program, over 900 Massachusetts residents have installed small-scale solar systems. If you live in one of the following towns, Solarize Mass can help you choose the right solar installation type for your home and explain possible funding options: BourneBrooklineChelmsford, CarlisleLeeMedfordMedwayNewtonNorthampton and Williamstown.

A city-specific program committed to increasing solar power opportunities is called Renew Boston. The program receives federal assistance from the United States Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to bring solar power to Boston residents and businesses. Renew Boston researches the best places for solar panels to maximize the cost-effectiveness of future projects. Because it is of course wasteful and expensive to build solar panels in an area that doesn’t receive as much sunshine as another close-by area. This map shows where current wind turbines and solar panels are across the city. Mayor Menino has also recently endorsed a partnership between Renew Boston and Next Step Living to educate Bostonians on how they can go solar on their own property. Information sessions are being held around the city. More information about these sessions and future workshops can be found at the Renew Boston website.

For those Boston residents who already know that they want to install solar, or are seriously considering it, they can sign up for a free home energy assessment from Next Step Living. Even if you aren’t quite ready to go solar, a home energy assessment is also a great way to find out how to make your home more energy efficient even without spending any money. Next Step Living is also a PV solar installer so it can help you get started with the next steps of your solar panel installation project. Renew Boston and Next Step Living will look at satellite photographs of your property to make sure that solar panels are an appropriate choice for your home. Then Renew Boston will work with you to make sure your project is as affordable and energy efficient as possible.

If a solar installation isn’t possible for your home, or you are a renter, another way to support solar initiatives and reduce your reliance on fossil fuels is to purchase solar power through your utility. Greenovate Boston has detailed resources for purchasing renewable power. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are available through NSTAR. Another option is to sign up for Boston Buying Power which purchases RECs in bulk to ensure that its prices are equal to or lower than fossil fuel energy.

Renewable power is affordable for anyone on every budget, and is a great way to get started reducing your carbon footprint.

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Cameron Bruns is the founder of and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on

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