Somerville Energy Efficiency Now (SEEN)
SEEN, a division of the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, is making sustainability a priority to help create cleaner, safer housing environments. Whether you are a property owner or tenant, living in a single family or multi-unit home, affordable housing, or commercial space, there is a program for you.
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Heat Smart/Cool Smart
No-cost Home Energy Assessment
SEEN is designed to make energy-efficient upgrades for Somerville homeowners, landlords, and tenants easier and more affordable through the Mass Save® Home Energy Services Program no-cost Home Energy Assessment. If you would like to make your home more energy efficient, energy-efficiency is the generally the most cost-efficient and effective way to start.
An assessment takes about one to three hours. The advisor will provide you with no-cost energy-efficiency upgrades like LED and CFL light bulbs, programmable thermostats, smart power strips, and water saving devices for qualified fixtures.
The advisor will conduct a health and safety check, looking for toxins, hazards, and check the efficiency of your heating system and provide you with a report of their findings and recommendations.
Rebates, Incentives, and Financing
The Mass Save® program offers a no-cost assessment, as well as rebates and incentives including:
- No-cost sealing of air leaks
- Up to $3,000 off insulation
- Up to $3,500 on a new heating system
- Up to $10,000 financing on windows
- These and other energy upgrades can also be financed through the 0% Interest HEAT Loan: Apply here.
- Businesses: Get started on your journey to energy-efficiency by contacting your Program Administrator here (to the right, fill in your business address’s zip-code).
- Income-eligible programs: Mass Save® offers additional incentives for income-eligible Massachusetts residents. Please see the income guidelines listed in the brochure. If you fall within income guidelines, the best way to get started is by calling a local CAP Agency from the list or 866-537-7267. Some CAP Agencies that serve Somerville are listed below:
- City of Cambridge, Department of Human Services: (617) 349-6252
- Community Action Program Intercity, Inc.: (617) 884-6130
- Menotomy Weatherization: (781) 316-3436
- There are other programs you may be eligible for, including Utility Discount Rates and Payment Plans or Arrearage Management Programs. Eversource and National Grid offer discount rates for energy.
- The City of Somerville offers income-based Rehab, Heating System, or Lead Abatement programs that can be combined with state and utility programs, too.
- Landlords: Mass Save® offers advanced incentives for landlords. If the tenants pay for electricity or natural gas, landlords should collect the utility account numbers prior to calling Mass Save® to schedule an assessment. This information is required to complete an assessment.
- Multi-family programs: Mass Save® offers different incentives for buildings with 5 or more units. For more information, please view the brochure or call 1-800-594-7277.
- Tenants: Qualifying tenants do not need their landlord’s permission to complete an assessment.
To schedule your no-cost Mass Save® Home Energy Assessment, call 1-866-527-7283. Translation services available.
To sign up to be contacted by a Mass Save® representative, homeowners, landlords, and tenants of 1-4 unit buildings may fill out the form below:
Competitive Electric Supplier Information
Due to the influx of residents inquiring about purchasing basic electrical service from competitive suppliers, we have compiled the tools and resources available to help residents decide what distribution option is best for them. This information is for people who have been solicited to switch their basic service provider and is separate from the City’s Community Choice Aggregation program. For more information on the City’s aggregation program, please visit www.somervillecce.com.
To help residents decide if sticking with basic supply service, or choosing a competitive supplier, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has created Energy Switch Massachusetts, a tool to help residents compare third-party suppliers.
If you are contacted by a competitive supplier about switching basic service providers, you are not required to sign an agreement or contract with that supplier.
According to the DPU, competitive suppliers may offer:
- Two pricing structures:
- Fixed-price: Price remains constant for a specified period of time, but may contain an early termination fee.
- Variable-price: Price changes frequently, but generally do not have specified terms and early termination fees.
- Two billing options:
- Consolidated-bill option: Competitive suppliers use the monthly bill sent by the electric distribution companies.
- Dual-bill option: Competitive suppliers send a separate bill for supply products.
- Two pricing options:
- Six-month fixed‑price option
- Monthly pricing option (this pricing structure is also available through Eversource)
- Renewable energy (RE) products:
- Percent energy mix generated from RE resources
- Specific locations and characteristics of RE resources
- Other services and products
Heat Smart/Cool Smart
HeatSmart CoolSmart ended February 15, 2018.
HeatSmart CoolSmart was a limited-time program that helped educate Somerville property owners and provided a discount of up to 15% on air source heat pumps, high-efficiency heating and cooling technology, through qualified installers. Click the link below to visit the website and learn more about air source heat pumps.
8 Steps to Going Solar in Somerville
See if your home is solar ready with Google Project Sunroof.
Solar photovoltaics (PV) convert sunlight into electrical energy through solar panels connected to an electrical system, or to the electrical grid. Check our Massachusetts Clean Energy Center How It Works diagram to learn more.
Shop around and select an installer.
Purchasing vs. Leasing
If you are purchasing the system, you will receive full incentive values for the energy your produce through net-metering. The owner should expect to recoup the value of the system between approximately 4-8 years after the system is turned on. Low-interest financing is available for a limited time through the Mass Solar Loan at masssolarloan.com. You may also qualify for a federal tax credit of 30% of the total cost of the system.
If you decide to sign a lease or power-purchase agreement, a customer pays for the solar power system over a period of about 15-30 years, rather than in an up-front payment. Often customers can purchase solar for little or no money down, and often realize energy savings immediately. In a power-purchase agreement, a customer agrees to purchase all the energy from a solar system over a fixed period of time.
Apply for Permits from the City.
Install the system.
Schedule a final inspection through the City of Somerville.
Your installer will typically be the one to do this.
Request permission to operate from the utility (Eversource)
Your system is interconnected!
Congratulations! You are now solar powered.☺
Multi-family & Condo Resources
- Department of Energy Resources A Solar Guide for Condominium Owners and Associations in Massachusetts
- Multifamily and Condo Solar 102 presentation Slide 30-53
- Sunny Cambridge Landlord and Condo Resource (attached to 6/7 email)
- Schedule Z: If you have multiple net-meters on your property, this form allows for virtual net metering. Virtual net metering assigns a portion of your net metering credits to another unit’s utility bill. When designing your system, you may ask your installer about this option for your multifamily or condo building.
- Federal Tax Credit: A 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is available for qualified residential and commercial projects. A guide for how the ITC works can be found at energysage.com.
- Limited time Mass Solar Loan: Residential, Business, and Low-Income low-interest financing is available through the Mass Solar Loan at http://www.masssolarloan.com. View the program’s Performance and Comparison Tool.
- Five-year Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS): Business owners can depreciate solar electric systems over a five-year schedule.
- Business Energy ITC: A sliding tax credit that varies depending on the scale and date of the energy retrofit. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy website to learn more.
- Net metering: Net metering is a policy that allows homeowners to receive retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the PV system's electricity production. Net metering allows homeowners with PV systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner's PV system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home. If the PV system produces more electricity than the homeowner needs, the extra kilowatts are fed into the utility grid.
- Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs): SRECs show that a certain amount of electricity was produced using solar energy. One is created for every megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced by a solar generator. SRECs are sold separately from the electricity they produce.
- Other financing resources can be found at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) and the MassCEC’s Financing Clean Energy Projects page.
- Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program:
Please be aware the DOER is in the process of restructuring state-wide incentives for solar to create a long-term sustainable incentive program to promote cost-effective solar development. This policy is expected to shift from the current SREC model to a declining block grant model.
The DOER has hosted several stakeholder meetings and public commenting periods to help create the new policy. The City of Somerville submitted a joint-comment with the City of Cambridge advocating for a smooth transition from SREC II, additional incentives for multifamily properties, and stressing the importance of low-income and community solar projects.
As of June 2017, the SMART program has not been finalized and a start date has not been set. Please see the DOER’s website for more information.
2017 National Grid Community Initiative
LIMITED TIME PROGRAM NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 31ST, 2017: If Somerville residents complete 1,500 no-cost Mass Save® Home Energy Assessments by December 31st, 2017, Somerville will receive $40,000 in funding for future energy initiatives.
The City of Somerville has earned SolSmart Gold Designation from SolSmart, a national designation and technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.
SolSmart nationally recognizes communities for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs. Earlier this year, Somerville became the first community in the Commonwealth to be designated Bronze. Somerville is now the first community in Massachusetts to earn Gold.
To achieve designation, cities, and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
Solarize Somerville 2016
Thank you to all those who participated in Solarize Somerville. Solarize Somerville was a limited-time incentive program the City of Somerville offered in partnership with the Mass Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources. The program lasted July-December 2016. Solarize Somerville surpassed its goal of 100 signups with 115 residents committing to installing solar arrays. Together, the solar arrays will produce more than half a megawatt of electricity, which also exceeds the Solarize solar capacity goal the city team set of signing up enough residents to produce 400 kW.
2016 National Grid Community Initiative Results
Thanks to the more than 750 residents who participated in the 2016 National Grid Community Initiative, Somerville’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of taking 394 passenger cars off the road per year, and residents will save a total $118,000 on utility bills, every year. National Grid awarded the City with a Shining Community Award for residential efforts in energy-efficiency.
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