Next Step Living launches solar power for the masses

(iStockphoto)
(iStockphoto)

Boston’s Next Step Living has launched a new way for some Massachusetts residents to have their electricity supplied via solar energy. The company has announced a program to harness the power (and savings) of solar without having to install solar panels on their home or property.

In southeastern Massachusetts, National Grid ratepayers can now buy into a community solar “garden” in their area that will supply some or all of their power for the life of the system. WMECo ratepayers in western Massachusetts can do the same, and Next Step also has plans to expand into northeastern Massachusetts.

The program is targeted at apartment dwellers as well as homeowners who don’t have ideal conditions for a solar power system.

“It really democratizes solar,” said Next Step Living COO Brian Greenfield. “Eighty percent of people have roofs that are not great for solar.”

The cost of buying into the program is “very comparable” to having a rooftop solar system installed on a home, Greenfield said. A solar garden system that can offset all of a home’s power would typically run $15,000 to $20,000, which would most likely pay for itself within 10 to 14 years. The system can last 25 years or more, and financing is available, Greenfield said.

When an owner moves, they have the option to take ownership with them if they move within the same area, or they can sell their panels to another ratepayer, he said.

Next Step Living is partnering with community solar firm Clean Energy Collective on the program. It’s the first mass-market community solar program in Massachusetts, Greenfield said.

Next Step Living update

Next Step Living — an energy services firm focused on efficiency upgrades — saw $58 million in revenue last year, and is on track to double that this year, Greenfield said.

Founded in 2009, the company has done work in more than 75,000 homes to date, including 3,500 in Connecticut, which the firm expanded to from Massachusetts last year.

Next Step Living now employs more than 700.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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