Where are the Installed Solar Energy Systems in Massachusetts?

When I was working in California, it was refreshing to see solar panels in many neighborhoods. They are harder to find out here in New England other than the ones hooked up to highway signs, but when I do it is always a treat to see how the system was designed.

The Commonwealth Solar Program, now run by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, does an excellent job publishing data about the PV projects completed in the state.  I have included a map that shows where the installations are done by town/city in MA as of March 16, 2009.

So where do you think most of the photovoltaic projects to date were done?  My guess would have been one of the suburbs east, north, or south of Boston.  It came as a huge surprise that Barnstable topped the list at 8 solar electric installations, followed by 6 in Brewster, Falmouth, and Acton.  Honorable mention goes to Framingham, Northborough, Amherst, Northampton, and North Boston (not sure, but could be Chelsea) with 5 installations.  The cape has taken an early lead, but will it continue?  It’s been more than a year since the map was updated so it could look significantly different now.  I can’t wait to see how it changes.

The reason why California has taken the lead for solar installations is because Californians have a greater awareness about solar and how it works.  Getting the first installation in a community is the hardest.  But after the first, friends and neighbors are more likely to follow suit.  Oftentimes when I’ve been working on a PV installation, the people living next door or across the street usually ask a lot of questions and many eventually ask for a solar evaluation for their own houses.

If you have more interest in seeing installed solar electric systems in Massachusetts or any other state, there is an annual solar tour that the American Solar Energy Society organizes every fall.  During this tour, you can view someone’s solar electric system firsthand and talk to the owner of the system about why they made the purchase, how they found the experience, and what you should know before contacting an installer.  Brightstar Solar hopes to participate and will publish the schedule closer to the date of the event.