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A Few Notes on Greenfield, MA

Clair Chang and John Ward of the Solar Store of Greenfield. Photo courtesy of Clair Chang.

Clair Chang and John Ward of the Solar Store of Greenfield. Photo courtesy of Clair Chang.

By Green Energy Times Staff

Over the years, Greenfield has been a leading community in energy, efficiency, and sustainability. Five from recent history might be taken as representative.

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), which had originally been based at MIT, moved its headquarters to Greenfield in 1994, taking up residence in a former railroad administrative building. NESEA’s annual conference in Boston is one of the most important sustainable energy events in the Northeast. Its activities include the American Tour de Sol, which demonstrates solar-powered cars. It opened the Greenfield Energy Park, now a city park, in1999.

The Solar Store of Greenfield opened in 2005. Claire Chang and John Ward, who joined the store in 2008, bought it in 2011, raising it to a new level of excellence. Visitors have always found the store an easy place to become more energy-aware. Chang and Ward have made it even easier for everyone to move to a more sustainable and resilient lifestyle, and have been central of moving Greenfield forward toward that goal.

In 2008, Rural Development, Inc. began to develop Wisdom Way, a set of ten highly energy-efficient duplexes of two to four bedrooms. The prototype was a highly efficient home with solar power in Colrain, Massachusetts, finished in 2007. Wisdom Way was completed in 2010. It became a subject of study by the US Department of Energy, which found that the apartments had total utility bills for heat and electricity ranging from $14.25 to $38.17 per month.

Greenfield was the first community in New England to install a solar farm on a retired landfill. The two kilowatt (kW) plant produces about 2,400,000 kWh of electricity per year. The city gets 40% of its power from the solar farm, for which it pays 1¢ per kilowatt hour. The plant went online in 2012.

In 2014, the town of Greenfield partnered with PV Squared to have a Greenfield Solar Challenge. The program generated 197 inquiries, of which 113 produced proposals. There, were fifty-eight projects undertaken, of which three were commercial and fifty-five residential. At present, installation is still under way. The total capacity installed under the program will be 508.65 kW, of which 145 were commercial and 363.65 were residential. This is bringing the amount of private solar power in Greenfield to a multiple of what it had been.

Next issue of Green Energy Times will have
another Greenfield story in our Dining in the Green section.
It will be about The People’s Pint, a great place to sup.

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