Despite being located where the sun shines with less intensity and frequency, Massachusetts has become one of the fastest growing states for solar, more than doubling their installed solar capacity over the last six months. MassCEC, the organization responsible for administering government-funded programs to support solar and other renewables, recently reported that employment among MA-based clean energy companies, many of which are in the solar industry, grew 6.7% last year, which places the Commonwealth in the top ten among US states in solar jobs created.
MassCEC and the Department of Energy Resources have rolled out a number of successful programs that reduce the costs of going solar. The most popular program, the Comm II Solar Rebate, offers a base payment of $.75/watt with additional incentives for modest wealth factors and use of locally manufactured components. The program has supported 7.4 MW of the 37.9 MW of solar projects that are either operational or in the pipeline in Massachusetts today. Read about recent program updates here.
MassCEC recently launched a community-oriented grassroots program targeting prospective residential solar system owners. The pilot, called Solarize Massachusetts, recently extended its application deadline to the end of October due to the flood of applicants in the first four communities (Scituate, Harvard, Hartfield, Winchester). Each community selected one of the 36 integrators that entered competitive RFP processes to partner with the program. Integrators handle everything from applying for rebates to procuring system components to the installing the system itself. By pooling applicants through a community grassroots campaign, the program and its partnered integrator offer system cost savings of $.50-$2.00/watt. The number of applications has ranged from as few as 20 in Scituate to as many as 200 in Harvard.
In addition to rebate programs that reduce the upfront costs, MA system owners can also take advantage of a strong and craftily structured SREC market. By implementing a price floor for SRECs and setting annual targets based on the previous year’s supply of SRECs, the market is less susceptible to long-term oversupplies- an issue currently plaguing SREC markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With SREC prices trading above $500 and MassCEC’s intention to continue funding their programs through next year, look for Massachusetts to continue its trend and grow into a premier market for solar.