Greening Greenfield has chosen Garth Shaneyfelt and Melinda Baughman as our Green Heroes for September to show what a family can do to support a sustainable life style, and to help build excitement for The Greenfield Solar Challenge.

The Challenge, offered by one solar installer vetted and selected by the Town of Greenfield, will give Greenfield residents and businesses the opportunity to install solar electric-generating panels at discounted rates made possible by town -wide group buying.  The installer is Greenfield-based Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics Co-op (PV Squared).  But, this offer is good for only the next 12 weeks!   Here is the way Garth and Melinda got started!

You may have met Garth Shaneyfelt at an event in Greenfield.  He is one of the 7 co-op owners of ABC, The Artisan Beverage Co-operative, making Kombucha, and Honey and Ginger wine, operating out of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation Venture Center on Wells Street in Greenfield.

Garth and his wife, Melinda Baughman, are also the proud owners of a home they have been improving for several years, getting gradually more and more energy efficient and today they also generate electricity with solar electric panels, called photovoltaics or “PV” mounted on their roof.

To get started, several years ago Garth and Melinda called Mass Save (1-800-666-3303) and spent two years doing energy efficiency work with Mass Save’s free energy audit and financial grants before they put on photovoltaics.  They air-sealed the house, put in new light bulbs, blew in 18” of insulation in their attic, and installed new heat-saving curtains.  Because of the subsidies from Mass Save and other rebates, the cost to them was only $400.   They also put in a Solar Hot Water system, replacing their old gas one. 

Then they applied for a 0% interest loan, subsidized by Mass Save, (currently offered through Franklin First and Workers Credit Unions and Greenfield Coop Bank) and replaced two old heating systems, one gas, and the other oil, with a new 96-98% energy efficient heating system. 

Finally, they went to Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics for a 2400-watt photovoltaic system that would generate electricity.  While it could have been roof or ground mounted, PV Squared came first to their household to evaluate the availability of sunshine.  (To be eligible for the state rebates, currently worth up to $3250, they needed to have 80-85% direct sunlight/day.)  Then PV Squared evaluated their building and provided a plan for their system, which was installed in 2008.

Garth and Melinda also had to replace their aging roof, because, while the solar collectors are warranted for 20 years, their roof with 3 layers of asphalt only had a couple of good years left.  They were able to pay for everything because they received a Federal tax credit (until 2016 the tax credit is worth 30% of the total cost of the system), a Massachusetts tax credit (capped at $1000), Solar Renewable Energy Credits (S-RECs are still available) providing cash payments over 10 years for generating green energy, as well as a Massachusetts rebate (currently capped at $3250).  When they added up all the savings, rebates, and tax credits, they realized that the cost of their system was cut almost in half!  Plus they had eliminated a very significant part of their electric bill.

Why did Garth and Melinda decide to do all these energy-saving projects?  “It saves money,” says Garth. “And, in a time of decreasing resources it is important to use as few as we can.  We have a lot better chance of having enough for everyone if we all use as few resources as possible.”

For their dedication to energy saving and for providing leadership installing PV, Garth and Melinda are Greening Greenfield’s Green Heroes of the Month.  Taking advantage of this great 3-month opportunity, we encourage Greenfield residents to follow their lead, with the Greenfield Solar Challenge.   Make an appointment with our Town Solar Coach, or PV Squared to get more information and a site evaluation.

Check out GCTV ( for a video of the Solar 101 workshop, and watch the newspaper for a new “Financing Solar Workshop” co-sponsored by Greening Greenfield and Franklin County CDC, that will be offered later this month.

Call the Town of Greenfield’s well-informed Solar Coach, Anne Perkins, at 772-1389 or email her:  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. Or contact PV Squared at  for an evaluation today while the prices are great, and the tax credits, rebates, and SRECs are still in place!

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