Massachusetts is contributing significant resources to the science and implementation of the solar energy industry, not just in its government investments in the industry, but especially in the research being conducted by the MIT Energy Initiative. In May of this year, that group released a report that stated,
“Solar electrical generation is one of the very few low-carbon energy technologies with the potential to grow to very large scale. As a consequence, massive expansion of global solar generating capacity to multi-terawatt scale is very likely an essential component of a workable strategy to mitigate climate change risk.”
As a resident of the state, you may be intrigued by not just the properties of solar electric power, but also by the unique and innovative options for solar investment offered to you by the governments of Massachusetts and Boston.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Massachusetts ranks fourth in the nation for the amount of solar energy capacity installed in 2014: 308.2 MW, capable of powering 50,000 homes. By 2016, the state intends to take more than 900 MW of fossil fuel energy offline, to be replaced by nearly 1,100 MW of installed solar. Thus far, the state enjoys 876 MW of currently installed solar capacity (ranking it sixth in the country), which provides 140,000 homes with clean, carbon-free electricity. In 2014, more than $791 million was invested in solar installations across the state.
Solar is financially feasible:
The expense involved in solar installation has dropped by 53 percent since 2010, which is a big reason why it has become such a desirable element of the climate-change attack process. Massachusetts has several financial incentives available or in the works to encourage home and business owners to investigate the economic feasibility of installing a solar electric system.
Still in the development stage, this project seeks to reduce financial barriers to direct ownership of residential solar system through access to attractive local bank loans.
Solar Carve-Out / SREC II
This program seeks to encourage residential, commercial, public and non-profit entities to contribute to the development of 400 MW of solar electric energy across the commonwealth. This distributed generation capacity will be carved out of the renewable energy class requirement that a certain percentage of gross energy capacity be from renewable sources. The balance of that percentage will come from utility-generated renewables. Participants in the program will receive Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) based on the solar capacity they install. They can also reduce their electric bill when they use their solar electricity instead of grid-supplied. And they can make money when the “net metering” process sends excess electricity generated by their solar power system back to the grid, for others to use.
Tax incentives and financing options are available
The federal government currently offers a full 30 percent tax incentive for the purchase and installation of solar power systems. Businesses are also eligible. Massachusetts offers a personal income tax credit that will reduce the cost of purchase and installation even more. For those who seek financing options, renewable energy is often the beneficiary of excellent deals in loan terms, amounts and durations.
This innovative project has rolled out successfully in several smaller Massachusetts communities. The object is to entice early entries into solar power investment with higher levels of rebates. As more people within the community engage, the value of the rebate decreases. In the latest round of applications, 932 residents and businesses agreed to install more than 6.0 MW of solar energy in their communities, which can power more than 900 average Massachusetts homes. Since its inception in 2011, Solarize Mass has been responsible for adding more than 2,450 solar power systems that generate 16 MW of solar electric capacity. That amount of energy offsets the emissions of 1,500 cars.
Boston is heavily invested in solar power development
The City of Boston launched its “Renew Boston Solar” to capitalize on the U.S. Department of Energy’s “SunShot Initiative.” Through this program, the city is encouraging installation of solar technology by reducing restrictions and easing permitting; mapping feasibility locations; and investing in bulk purchases of solar technology and equipment for purchase, financing and installation. At the same time, Boston is working with business to maximize the city’s participation in state incentives and connecting solar projects with other renewable energy projects within city limits. The city even issued a new Solar Permitting Guide for Contractors to give incentives to builders who want to include solar energy generation into their building plans. The city’s plan is to have 25 MW of solar energy system capacity installed by the end of this calendar year.
Also, Boston is participating in the “Rooftop Solar Challenge.” This project is part of the SunShot initiative that supports administrative revisions to ease access for permitting, deployment and interconnection challenges that arise when solar system owners try to connect their system to the existing grid. Many current zoning and utility restrictions are not drafted to accommodate an easy entry of solar power into the utility schemes of business and function.
As a state, Massachusetts is a leader in the American Solar industry. As its capital city, Boston is certainly leading by example. If you’re a resident of Boston, you and your fellow citizens are gaining from the example set by your civic leaders and their skillful implementation of a viable, economically sound solar electricity industry.
RGS Energy designs and installs solar energy systems in Boston and the surrounding area. To get more information and a free quote, go to RGSEnergy.com.