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Shining the Light on Solar in South Hadley

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Q. Why can’t I install solar panels on my roof?

A. Since 2011, SHELD has allowed residential and commercial customers to install solar panels on roofs and have at least 65 locations where they are installed. Some of the publicly known locations include Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley Public Library (Canal Street), and the town landfill on Industrial Drive.

Q. When I have contacted solar companies, they are not interested in pursuing a project at my home because I live in a town with a municipal electric department. Why won’t SHELD allow these companies to work in South Hadley?

A. SHELD allows any solar company to install systems in South Hadley. We suspect that some of those companies decline to work with our customers simply because it does not fit their business model, and they can make more money elsewhere. In the past three years, nine different solar companies have installed projects in town, so customers should be able to find an installer that they can work with.

Q. If I have solar panels on my roof, will SHELD purchase any power I send back to the electric grid?

A. Most certainly, SHELD will purchase power sent back to us. The rate of compensation, known as the Distributed Generation Credit, is adjusted each quarter, based upon SHELD’s cost of energy. The current rate can be found using this link https://www.sheld.org/pages/residents/rates-residential/

Q. Doesn’t SHELD need this source of power like Eversource and National Grid?

A. Unlike those two companies, SHELD can own shares in generating plants, which allows us to have long-term power contracts, some until 2050. These contracts provide SHELD with stable, low energy rates well into the future. Eversource and National Grid must purchase 6-month contracts with energy suppliers, and these ever-increasing costs are just passed on to their customers.

Q. Doesn’t SHELD care about the environment, and the impact fossil fuels have?

A. SHELD certainly cares about our environment, and we are among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases of all utilities in Massachusetts. Annually, 85-90% of SHELD’s energy sources are from non-fossil fuel sources. As it stands, SHELD currently exceeds the state proposed 2040 clean energy standard of 80% electricity sold from non-carbon emissions. Throughout the year, there are times when SHELD meets the proposed 2050 goal of net zero emissions. In short, SHELD is among the greenest towns in the Commonwealth.

Q. Many towns have large solar farms, why doesn’t SHELD build one?

A. SHELD strongly supports renewable energy as we have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the state with 90% of our energy sales from non-carbon emissions power sources. Adding additional large-scale generation would result in power our customers cannot use which would increase rates for ratepayers. SHELD has focused on providing residential solar rebates which increases solar options without exceeding our energy requirements.

We recognize this is an important concern for our customers which is why SHELD worked with a developer in 2018. Our partnership with this developer resulted in a large-scale solar array located at Mt Holyoke College.

PV Interconnection Requirements; For customer-owned power generation, such as solar panels. PV System Metering Policy; For customer-owned power generation, such as solar panels.

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