Skip to main content

Ashland - Local Town Pages

High-Quality, Discounted Solar, Clean Heat and Cooling Technologies Offered to Residents

By Cynthia Whitty

Ashland, Holliston, Framingham, and Natick are launching a new program, MetroWest Solar + Clean Heat Challenge, for residents and small businesses across these four communities. The program was announced in Ashland via email from the town on June 11.

The MetroWest Solar + Clean Heat Challenge is a regional campaign focused on helping residents and small businesses install solar and clean heat and cooling technologies. The program will connect homeowners and business owners to high quality, discounted, clean energy solutions and competitive pricing from installers for solar panels and clean heating and cooling systems, known as heat pumps. Discounted pricing through the program is available to residents and small-business owners in Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, and Natick through December 2021.Frank Nakashian, Ashland’s Sustainability Coordinator, is one of the project managers for the initiative. Nakashian said, “Ashland was the lead community in developing the original program scope, RFP creation, and RFP management. I worked on this with members of the Sustainability Committee and municipal staff from Natick, Holliston, and Framingham. Now, since we are starting the program, I am involved with vendor management, coordinating outreach, and other program management tasks and am working on this with municipal staff in the three other communities and the Sustainability Committee.”

Nakashian said, “We do not have a specific goal [for signing up a certain number of customers], however, for solar pv [photovoltaics], after 200 kW in combined solar systems are installed in the four communities, base pricing for solar will be lowered for all customers.”

A “Meet the Installers” webinar was held on June 17. Nakashian said they “will hold more informational events as the program moves along. Some of these webinars will be ‘solar 101s’ or ‘air source heat pump 101s’ where the vendors will have a more targeted presentation on the systems. There will be volunteer events promoting the program at farmers markets and other town events. Volunteers will also be hosting solar or heat pump ‘open houses’ where interested residents can meet with a homeowner who has solar or heat pumps and ask questions on topics such as utility costs, maintenance, financing, temperature control and other items.”

Ashland Local Town Pages asked Nakashian how the program came about, how it works, and where residents can find more information. 

Whitty: How did this program come about?

“The communities of Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, and Natick all have established climate goals to reduce emissions and promote clean energy technologies. Notably, Ashland passed a Town Resolution calling to get to net-zero emissions by the year 2040. According to the 2017 Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 27 percent of statewide emissions comes from residential and commercial buildings, thus encouraging ways to promote clean energy technologies is a priority for Ashland and the three partnering communities. The Ashland Sustainability Committee ran a similar program, the Ashland Solar Challenge in 2014, which was very successful and the MetroWest Solar + Clean Heat Challenge builds off the program’s success. This program is also similar to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Solarize Massachusetts Plus and HeatSmart Massachusetts programs.”

Whitty: How does the program work? 

“The communities issued a request for proposals to competitively select vendors that offer discounted pricing to residents and that also conduct a marketing campaign to increase education and awareness in the municipalities on clean energy technologies. This marketing campaign is done through various events throughout the communities including meet the installer video calls, advertising, clean energy open houses, and other events (stay tuned!). Community volunteers also help drive the program by assisting in outreach by sharing their heat pump and/or solar experience with others, helping out at events, hosting lawn signs promoting the program, and other activities to help spread the word.”

Whitty: How can residents and businesses learn more?

“To learn more about the MetroWest Solar + Clean Heat Challenge and sign up for a no-cost site assessment, visit the program website at Ashland residents can also reach out to me at [email protected] if they are interested in volunteering to help promote clean energy technologies or host a program yard sign.”