The Massachusetts solar industry is booming. An increasing number of homes, businesses, and utilities are seeing the benefits of solar power and making the switch to a cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable source of power generation. The state’s active legislative work promoting solar, paired with local community support from citizens has resulted in one of the strongest solar markets in the nation.
Massachusetts has quickly disproven the myth that solar systems do not operate well in the Northeast. Millions of dollars in annual investment speak directly to the contrary. As this unprecedented growth continues, it is important to take a look at the current state of solar in the Bay State as well as some recently proposed legislation that could propel it even further. But how has the industry grown in recent months? What are the current solar incentives in Massachusetts? How might a new bill inspired by a piece of California legislation help grow the local solar industry?
Solar in Massachusetts By The Numbers
In Q1 2019, Massachusetts had the tenth most solar installations in the country. This accomplishment continues a trend of steady growth throughout 2018 where the state saw more than 318 MW of solar installed for a new cumulative total of over 2,500 MW of solar capacity to date.
This growth is largely due to a price decline of more than one third in the past five years. As solar becomes more and more cost competitive with other forms of energy generation, home and business owners are revisiting the idea of making the switch to solar in the name of environmental friendliness and fiscal responsibility. In total, there are now more than 500 solar employers in the state, ranging from manufacturers to installation or Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) firms like IPS. Collectively, these companies employ more than 10,000 people across the state, making it the third best state from a solar jobs perspective trailing only California and Florida. Finally, Massachusetts has grown its market share of solar energy as part of its energy mix with electricity generated by solar accounting for almost 10.7% of all electricity in the state.
Solar Incentives in Massachusetts
There are a variety of state-level policies in Massachusetts that make solar more affordable and attractive. First, residential solar owners can take advantage of the Renewable Income Offer program. This program allows the homeowner to receive a tax credit equal to 15% of the total installed value with a maximum tax credit of $1,000. This tax credit can then be directly applied to their Massachusetts income tax bill. Massachusetts is also a net-metering state, which allows solar generating systems to sell their power back into the grid to offset their monthly electricity bills. Furthermore, the state offers special sales and property tax exemptions for solar production projects as well as state-funded loans to help get solar projects off the ground.
The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program is a new financial incentive program created 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. Eligible Massachusetts home and business owners are also able to claim the full 30% federal Investment Tax Credit through the end of 2019.
The state’s utilities also feature a variety of specialized incentives for solar electric systems that use battery storage such as the ConnectedSolutions program for residential demand response. Through this program, homeowners can receive up to $225 per kilowatt for their battery’s contribution to reducing peak demand on the grid.
In addition to residential incentives, there are solar incentives in Massachusetts for larger commercial and utility-scale solar projects as well.
A Proposed Solar Mandate for New Homes in Massachusetts
The latest proposed solar policies currently being considered by Massachusetts lawmakers go even further to promote solar energy. A pair of bills passing through the Massachusetts House of Representatives would mandate solar panels on new and renovated buildings. SB 1957 would require solar panels on any new commercial or residential buildings while SB 1995 would require solar panels on any new or renovated state-owned buildings. These proposals are based on a similar California law that was passed last year.
However, not all members of the community are in favor of the pro-solar bills. Some in the real estate and construction industry have taken issue with the bills, citing record-high real estate and construction costs. Despite these protests, support for the bills is widespread across the solar industry and among average citizens of the state. If the bills pass, Massachusetts will likely see a significant boost in renewable energy development heading into the 2020s and further propelling it up the rankings.
The solar industry has never been such a key part of the economy, energy mix, and job market of Massachusetts as it is today. Already outpacing its neighbors in New England, the state is well on its way to being among the solar A-list of the US. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of going solar or have questions about the current solar incentives in Massachusetts, drop us a line here at IPS by emailing [email protected] or requesting a free quote today.
About the Author
Buddy Wilt is a Massachusetts-based, NABCEP-Certified Master Electrician with more than eight years of experience in the solar PV industry as a project manager and operations manager. Now he is focused on the development of the power storage and microgrid industry as it relates to solar PV. With his construction background, knowledge of the NEC, and business sense, he is able to understand and provide insight and solutions for the challenges in the storage and microgrid industry as it grows.