The Town of Amherst is launching a town-wide solar assessment. The Town has contracted GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. (GZA) to provide technical support throughout this process, that will include a survey, virtual and multiple in-person options for the community to engage and share their thoughts about solar development in Amherst.
The goals of this project are to prepare a map-based assessment of where solar may be feasible; conducting public outreach to gather residents’ thoughts, opinions, and values regarding solar development; and to compile the collected information into a final report for decision makers in the town.
The Amherst Town Council identified a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The Energy and Climate Action Committee (ECAC) has identified renewable energy development as a significant pathway towards meeting the town’s carbon reduction goals in its Climate Action, Adaptation and Resilience Plan (CAARP). Solar development plays a key role in the transition away from fossil fuels.
The need for a community-wide solar assessment serves several purposes. First and foremost, the mapping tool will allow the town’s decision makers the ability to understand where solar is feasible. It will also serve as a useful tool for the Town’s Solar Bylaw Working Group in understanding which land use areas are most likely to be impacted as they develop a regulatory framework that will provide a review procedure to guide and/or restrict development. It will also serve as a resource to residents and businesses that may be interested in pursuing a solar installation.
“It’s incredibly important that the Town have these resources available as we move Amherst towards its carbon reduction goals.” said Town Manager Paul Bockelman.
Sustainability Director Stephanie Ciccarello added that "the solar assessment mapping tool will prove to be an extremely useful source of information for municipal decision makers, property owners and businesses. We are grateful to the team at GZA for their expertise and skill in developing this resource for the town.”
Next Steps & How to Get Involved:
A series of events, both in-person and virtual, will take place in March. On Monday, March 13th the Town will host a virtual presentation for community members. On Saturday, March 18th from noon to 2 PM and on Thursday, March 23rd from 6-8 PM, Amherst residents are invited to a fun and engaging interactive workshop in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library. Stations will be set up around the room with activities that will allow residents to share their opinions about local solar development in a non-threatening and self-paced way. The same workshop is being held both days, so individuals need only participate in one. There will be translations services, children’s activities and light refreshments provided.
- Click here to learn more about the process, engagement opportunities and answer the survey through our partner GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
- Attend one of the upcoming information and interactive workshop sessions. Learn more in the "Events" tab on Engage Amherst.
- Complete a survey about solar development around Town to help us understand your thoughts and priorities.
- Respond to our short poll on the Engage Amherst project page www.engageamherst.org/solar
- Stay tuned for more!