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By Anamika Roy/Daily News Staff

Posted Jun. 30, 2015 at 5:58 PM

ASHLAND - The Ashland Community Center will be a little greener after it gets a set of solar panels on its roof from SolarFlair.

The five-kilowatt system is a gift from the Ashland-based solar company in response to the town’s success with the Ashland Solar Challenge, a program the company ran last year in partnership with the town’s Sustainability Committee

The challenge was designed with a five-tier pricing model to allow the cost of the solar panels to decrease as more people signed up.

Customers paid for a certain number of kilowatts depending on the solar panel’s material as well as the location and direction of their homes, in relation to the sun. A contract for the average Ashland home was six kilowatts. It takes between three and four years to break even with a solar panel system of that size.

There was also a sixth, bonus tier under which the company agreed to donate a five-kilowatt system to a family or charity if more people signed up for solar panels The town met the mark last fall, with 60 sign-ups.

The Sustainability Committee was tasked with finding the best place for the donated system and chose a slightly different path. They decided to use the panels to help the entire town.

“This way, the most people benefit from it as opposed to one family or one organization,” said Energy Manager Phillip Williams on Tuesday.

The committee looked at other town buildings but the community center made the most sense, said Williams.

In May, the town bought three electric cars and two publicly-accessible car charging stations through a state grant. The donated system will, in theory, offset some of the costs the town incurs from the charging stations.

A system of this size usually costs around $17,000. It will save the town around $27,000 on its utility bill over a 20-year period, said Williams.

"We are grateful to the town of Ashland for all their support during this program," said SolarFlair president and owner Matt Arner.

The Board of Selectmen is expected to accept the donation at its meeting Wednesday night. The panels will be installed after the selectmen vote.

Anamika Roy can be reached at 508-626-3957 or aroy@wickedlocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @anamikaroy.

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