Whether you live in Massachusetts or not, you may already know it’s built one of the best environments for solar power to thrive in the U.S. these days. The Bay State has been vigorously pursuing policies and programs to boost its solar power production and develop the solar industry, and its efforts are paying off. Increasingly, Massachusetts has begun focusing on increasing its amount of energy storage to achieve greater energy resiliency, reducing energy usage in the residential and industrial sectors, and building a bridge to the future of energy independence by offering incentives for owners of battery storage systems.
ConnectedSolutions: A Solar+Storage Incentive Program
The latest and most innovative program offered by the state of Massachusetts to increase the popularity and usage of energy storage systems is called ConnectedSolutions. This program, available to National Grid or Eversource customers, rewards the use of batteries to reduce peak energy use, reducing air pollution and lowering electricity cost.
In order to fully understand the benefits of ConnectedSolutions, you need to know a few things about energy utilities and the power grid. By allowing utility companies to draw energy stored in battery systems during times of peak demand, they are able to balance out the electric grid and avoid the use of energy from expensive “peaker plants.” These peaker plants are turned on to generate additional energy at certain times of the day when the demand for electricity across the grid is at its highest. Although useful for balancing the grid in times of extreme demand, their sources of energy are often more polluting than other plants and release more greenhouse gases. By reducing the demand and using “peaker plants” less often, then the entire grid gets cleaner and more efficient.
For owners of solar PV with integrated battery systems who are part of the ConnectedSolutions program, your utility will pay $225 per kilowatt (kW) for your battery’s average contribution during summer events and $50 per kW for your battery’s average contribution during winter events in Massachusetts. The utility is able to call upon your battery no more than 60 times per summer and five times per winter, with each event lasting a maximum of three hours. This limitation is comforting to many solar+storage system owners who made their investment, in part, to have an emergency energy source during power outages. Most such events occur during the winter months when ConnectedSolutions battery draws are limited.
The Battery System
The ConnectedSolutions program calls for the following battery systems for National Grid customers:
For Eversource customers, speak to the company directly to learn which battery storage systems are eligible.
One of the best battery systems on the market which is included in the ConnectedSolutions program and is offered by IPS is made by sonnen. The sonnenBatterie Smart Energy Storage system is one of the most robust and advanced batteries on the market. By using intelligent energy management software, your battery system will automatically store energy during the sunniest times to ensure you have power at night or during a power outage. Additionally, the sonnen system can switch to battery power during peak usage periods to avoid peak demand or high time-of-use charges and save you even more money on your utility bill. IPS is excited to work with sonnen as a product manufacturer as their reliability, efficiency, and intelligent software set them apart.
With 23 years of experience under our belts, IPS takes pride in exclusively installing non-toxic and recyclable batteries incapable of thermal runaway. Not all lithium-ion batteries are created equal and it is important to distinguish them by their chemistries. Lithium-ion batteries with the lithium-ion iron ferrous phosphate (LFP) cell chemistry is the type we use exclusively, as we have a commitment to safety and quality installations.
The Massachusetts SMART Program
In addition to the ConnectedSolutions battery program, Massachusetts has also recently released an equally generous solar+storage incentive in the form of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program. SMART is a financial incentive program designed to bolster the solar energy industry in the state by making the development of solar projects cheaper and thus more cost-competitive with other forms of electricity generation. This program took the place of the previous Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program which sought to put a value on solar generation by issuing credits for every Megawatt-hour of generation. These SRECs could then be sold in an open marketplace to either a utility, which may be trying to meet the state mandates for renewable energy generation or to an individual or business seeking to achieve some sustainability standards of their own.
The difference between the SREC programs of the past and the SMART program is that SMART is tariff-based instead of credit-based. This means that the solar generators will get a predetermined amount of payment for every kilowatt-hour generated instead of being issued a credit which can then be sold for varying prices out on the open market.
In total, this program is seeking to help the development of up to 1,600 MW of solar in the state. The program is overseen by the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and sponsored by three large utilities in the state which include Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. All solar projects in the state up to a maximum capacity of 5 MW are eligible to enroll in the program.
The Time for Solar+Storage
For the ConnectedSolutions Demand Response program and the SMART program, IPS is here to help guide you through the application process to ensure the best return on your system. With our partnerships and boots-on-the-ground, we work hard to help you take advantage of and maximize every incentive available. Historically, the value of batteries has been to keep the lights on. We’re excited that Massachusetts has recognized batteries as a valuable asset to the grid and is beginning to compensate consumers for their contribution to grid services and resilience. Contact us today to learn how you take to capture these powerful incentives and achieve your energy independence goals.
About the Author
Hannah Capshaw has a Master's degree in Renewable & Sustainable Energy from the University of Colorado Boulder and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Over the course of her graduate degree, Hannah’s research focused on microgrid development for community resilience and microgrid value chains from an interdisciplinary perspective, particularly in the Caribbean. At IPS, she assists in the development of energy storage and microgrid projects and manages marketing activities.