Recent Updates to Massachusetts Solar Power Incentives

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a chance to update our Bay State customers about local incentives.  Massachusetts remains one of the top places in the country to make a solar power investment.  The reason the state ranks high is its strong political support for PV incentives and favorable net metering and interconnection regulations. 

Here is a short rundown of the latest and greatest happening with residential solar power incentives in the state:

  1. Block 6 of the Commonwealth Solar II rebate is now open – Block 5 of the Commonwealth Solar II Rebate program ended on March 24th.  A new block of funds are available and the MassCEC is accepting new applications for residential and commercial projects (under 10 kW).  The state-funded program is open to customers of the Ashburnham, Holden, Holyoke, Russell, and Templeton Municipal Light plants and the following utility companies: Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light (Unitil), National Grid, NSTAR Electric, and Western Massachusetts Electric.  The state has allotted about $1 million in rebate incentives to be available per quarter.  A rebate block will end when funds are exhausted or the quarter has ended, whichever happens first. I anticipate that Block 6 will be overfunded by late May/early June based on the enormous growth of installations in the state.  Block 7 will likely open in early to mid-July timeframe. 
  2. Chinese-made Evergreen solar modules do not qualify for the Massachusetts company adder –The Commonwealth Solar II Rebate program offers a $0.10 per watt incentive for the first 5 kW if a project uses components from a Massachusetts company.  It may not seem significant, but for a 5 kW system, this would be $500.  To qualify for this additional rebate, you must provide proof that the solar (PV) panels, the inverter(s), or another component that is important to the electricity production is manufactured by a company with a significant Massachusetts presence.  Evergreen Solar, who previously had manufacturing operations in Devens, MA, has now moved its production facilities to China.  Customers can only receive the adder given if they can show proof the Evergreen solar panels were purchased before March 31, 2011.
  3. Alternative Compliance Payment for 2011 has decreased – The 2011 Alternative Compliance Payment for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) fell from $600/MWh to $550/MWh.  The price of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) in Massachusetts is based on market availability. The Solar Credit Clearinghouse Auction essentially creates the price floor because they will purchase any SRECS that cannot be sold on the open market for $300/MWh minus a 5% administrative charge, or $285/MWh.  If electricity suppliers fall short of their SREC requirement for their RPS obligation, they will have to pay an Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP), or a penalty of $550/MWh.  This is how we get to the price ceiling because the market value of SRECs will never be greater than that penalty.  SREC aggregators, who are closest to the market, believe that electricity suppliers will not meet their 2011 solar carve-out requirements and Massachusetts SREC prices should remain above $500.
  4. Reading Municipal Light Offers Renewable Energy Rebate – I just found out about a renewable energy rebate for residential customers of the Reading Municipal Light Department, including homeowners in Reading, North Reading, Lynnfield, and Wilmington.  The base incentive for the program is $1 per watt and can reach up to $2.50 per watt ( $5,000 max).  Other light companies with active municipal solar rebate programs include Ipswich, Marblehead, Taunton, Concord, and Chicopee.

If you are a Massachusetts homeowner who is looking to install solar power on your home, you are able to receive federal and state tax credits, state rebate incentives, property and sales tax exemptions, and a production-based incentive called Solar Renewable Energy Credits.  Rebates are not available for “do-it-yourself” projects and installations must be completed by licensed Massachusetts solar contractors.  Please contact Brightstar Solar to schedule a free evaluation to determine if you have good site for solar power and find out about the wide range of incentives available to you.