The most recent block for the widely popular Commonwealth Solar II Rebate Program in Massachusetts has just opened. Though the base incentives and “adders” for moderate income and home value have dropped from last year’s levels, administrators in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) still anticipate funding for this 9th block to fill up quickly. The last two blocks had a total funding level of $3m, funneled through the state’s Renewable Trust Fund. The Fund is mostly paid for by a surcharge on utility bills for the Commonwealth’s major electric utility companies.
Since the incentive dropped to a base of $.40/watt DC from $.75/watt DC, the previous two blocks still awarded an average of $2.4m to residential rooftop solar owners. The average system size over blocks 7 and 8 was just over 6 kW. What’s most encouraging about the rebate program is the continued declining cost of installations that have received a rebate. From the program’s beginnings in 2010, the average cost for systems awarded funding dropped from $6.92/watt to $5.53/watt- a 20% drop for residential systems just in this program! Meanwhile, MassCEC also reported that the community-pooling program called Solarize Massachusetts has achieved average installation costs of $5.18/watt. This is a positive sign attributed to the program’s contribution to the industry’s growth in Massachusetts, and will hopefully reduce the number of detractors that believe incentives for residential solar have no measurable benefits.