Greenfield: A Town with an Innovative Past, Present and Future

Take an educational trip right into Greenfield’s innovative past, present and future

Taken from the upper story front porch of the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls, this image shows the trolley near Second Street and Avenue A (c.1890), an example of trolly use in the Pioneer Valley. – Courtesy Image.

The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offers a complex story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.

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12th Annual Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint

Area Middle School Students to Compete in Junior Solar Sprint

Solar Sprint 2010

The Berkshire JSS is organized by the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) and sponsored by the Berkshire Gas Company, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, MCLA STEM Pipeline Network, Energy Federation, Inc., the U.S. Department of Energy, and other local sponsors.

Cynthia Grippaldi of Center for EcoTechnology writes:

On Saturday, June 4, area middle school students will gather at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield for the twelfth annual Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint (JSS). More than 80 students from across and beyond Berkshire County are expected to participate in the JSS this year.

The Junior Solar Sprint competition was started by the US Department of Energy in 1991 to expose students to photovoltaics and its potential for their future. The JSS is a fun and educational competition for students in grades 5-8 who work in teams to design, build and race model solar vehicles powered by the sun. The students are challenged to use scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork. In the process they learn firsthand about engineering, physics and non-polluting transportation.

Registration for students begins at 8:30 a.m. Judging of entries begins at 9:30 and races begin at 10 a.m.. The solar vehicles will be judged for speed, craftsmanship, innovation and technical merit, and the top three winners in each category will be eligible to compete in the regional JSS championship in Springfield on June 12. In addition, there is a prize for ‘Best Use of recycled Materials’ and a student’s choice ‘Best in Show’.
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Hilltown Spring Festival is Solar Powered!

Sun and Solar Store to Power Hilltown Spring Festival

Solar powered music at the Hilltown Spring Festival on Saturday, May 14th! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This year’s Hilltown Spring Festival again has the goal of sustainability woven throughout—from the children’s activities, to the composting and trash recycling, all the way to folk/blues/percussion rhythms, and alt-jazz that will emanate from the Festival’s three music stages. “It takes plenty of energy to get the Festival off the ground and we wanted to make that energy sustainable too,” says festival organizer Laine W., “This year we’re thrilled to have sustainable energy broadcasting all of the music from our 18 performances — powered by the solar electric and battery system donated by Claire Chang and John Ward, owners of The Solar Store of Greenfield.”

So, when festival goers enjoy the rhythms of Gaia Roots or the three-part harmonies of the Boxcar Lilies, or the kids gather around the stage to sing a chorus with The Nield, Sarah Pirtle or Ben Rudnick & Friends, those notes and tunes will be carried back to the Festival audience using the planet’s own powerhouse, the sun.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Awarded Clean Energy Choice Grant For Solar Collection

Clean Energy Choice Grants Awarded to Green Leading Communities

Local commercial resources are available to support solar energy development in Western Mass . Recently the governor visited the Greenfield Solar Store in Greenfield, MA. He was briefed by owner Mark Skinder on how he's making solar energy a reality in the Greenfield community. Click image to read more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Today, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D – Pittsfield) announces Clean Energy Choice Grants awarded to the Towns of  Williamsburg and Williamstown by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. The grants, totaling $70,076, help fund solar projects which further the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals.

“Recently state policymakers set dramatic renewable energy goals for the Commonwealth,” said Downing. “I am pleased these two communities chose to participate in programs such as this to generate clean energy on-site, save money and help preserve Massachusetts’ environmental assets.”


The Trust is awarding the Town of Williamsburg, located in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, with a Clean Energy Choice grant of $21,775.13 for the installation of a 2.97 kW roof-mounted PV system at the Anne T. Dunphy School. This system will reduce the Town’s energy costs and will help educate residents about the power of clean energy technologies. The installation will also include a Data Acquisition System that will allow viewing of real-time data on any computer on the school’s local area network.


Further, the Trust is providing the Town of Williamstown with a Clean Energy Choice grant of $49,011.49 to help fund the installation of a 16.38 kW photovoltaic array and Data Acquisition System on the Williamstown Department of Public Works salt storage facility. This system will reduce the Town’s energy costs and will help educate residents about the power of clean energy technologies.

Program funding comes as a result of efforts by Massachusetts citizens to purchase clean energy through their electric utility bills, which generated matching funds from the Trust for use toward clean energy projects.

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Learn How Solar Power Can Save Your Family Money

Solar Power Seminar: Homeowners to Learn How Solar Power Is Cheaper than Utilities

Sun Puppet - Riverfest in Shelburne Falls, MA

Solar powered sun puppet. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Alteris Renewables and GREEN Northampton will host a free public seminar on solar energy for homeowners in the Pioneer Valley on July 7pm at the Media Education Foundation (60 Masonic St.) in Northampton. The seminar will explain how solar works and is cost competitive with electricity supplied by utilities for the first time. Homeowners are encouraged to register for the seminar by calling 800-955-1548 or via email

The seminar will focus on the affordability of solar energy in the Pioneer Valley. Through its partnership with California-based SunRun, Alteris Renewables is turning home solar into a monthly service, like cable or phone service, for residents of the Pioneer Valley and others in Massachusetts. With this new program, upfront costs plummet from $30,000 to as little as $1,000 for customers to be able to install solar electric systems on their homes. Customers will enjoy immediate savings with locked-in rates for the next 18 years – a valuable protection from future electric rate increases. They can also make a good return on their initial investment.

Experts have long projected that solar electricity would eventually be on par with electricity from the traditional electric utility. Now that cross-over point has been reached for Massachusetts homeowners. Electricity rates in Massachusetts have nearly doubled over the last 20 years. If these trends continue, a typical customer could recover their upfront payment in as little as two years and see an after-tax return on their investment of as much as 60% or more.


GREEN Northampton is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to foster community bonds and promote environmentally sustainable, low-energy and healthy lifestyles neighborhood by neighborhood in Northampton in response to climate change and resource depletion.

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