- Despite relatively low levels of sunlight hours, Massachusetts has generous incentives for residential customers looking to install solar panels
- Massachusetts has net metering rules which allows households who generate excess solar energy to sell it back to the grid
- Complete the form above to compare solar installation prices from installers in Massachusetts or see our in-depth guide to solar in Massachusetts below
Overview of Solar in Massachusetts
At first blush, the success of solar energy in Massachusetts is confounding. With the state’s long and often harsh winters, it wouldn’t seem to have the most favorable climate for solar energy.
Indeed, the state’s average insolation (the amount of sunlight it receives) averages four hours per day — a peak of five hours per day in the summer, with an average of one to two hours in the winter months.
However, the success of solar isn’t measured by sunlight alone. While Massachusetts doesn’t have the same rate of insolation as such solar powerhouses as California and Arizona, it hardly lags behind those states when it comes to a favorable system of regulations and incentives for residential customers looking to make the switch to solar.
The state is home to the nation’s first solar park (a 100 kW array installed in 1981 outside Beverly High School). The years since have seen an explosion of solar energy in the state, to the extent that the state increased its target for solar generation to 1,600 MW in photovoltaic capacity statewide by 2020, since its earlier goal — 250 MW by 2017 — was met in 2013, well ahead of schedule.
Solar Incentives and Rebates in Massachusetts
Net Metering means that solar energy doesn’t only lower your utility bills. If you’re one of the many customers who generate a surplus, you will be able to sell your excess power back to participating utilities. Along with the savings leveraged by switching to solar, SREC payments can be a means of paying off your solar investment quickly, or may even be a source of profit.
The Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) / “Solar Carve-Out” is intended to support the creation of solar energy facilities. Since its inception, its scope has changed — and broadened — to include incentives and rebates not only for utilities, but also for homeowners who opt for solar. Utilities can opt to purchase SREC credits on an open exchange from customers or from other solar producers in order to offset penalties for missing clean energy targets.
Commonwealth Solar, a program operated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, incentivizes the installation of small commercial and residential photovoltaic systems via rebates.
Many Tax Credits are available for solar customers. Your solar panels are exempt from sales tax. They are also exempt from your home’s tax assessment for twenty years, so while your solar system adds value to your home, that increased value won’t immediately show in your property taxes. Massachusetts also augments the Federal income tax savings from solar installation — which, remember, is a maximum of $3,000 — with an additional tax credit that covers the greater of 15% or $1,000 of the amount not covered by the Federal rebate.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge is a pilot program targeting five communities in Massachusetts to identify roadblocks in the financial, permitting, and regulatory processes surrounding solar energy. Upon completion, the results of the program will be used to inform and streamline solar policy in the rest of the state.
Solar panel companies in Massachusetts
National Solar Installers Operating in Massachusetts
SolarCity: SolarCity has grown since its 2006 founding to become the largest solar provider in the United States. While it’s associated with the Southwest (especially California, where it was founded), the company also maintains a strong presence from New Hampshire to Washington, DC, as well as coverage in Oregon and Nevada.
Vivint: The Smart Home movement and the burgeoning “internet of things” are poised to revolutionize the way we live. Vivint is positioned to take full advantage by offering “Smart Home Solutions” that include cloud services, internet connectivity, security, and more. The company’s embrace of solar is as forward-looking as the rest of its portfolio, and the company offers installation services across the United States.
SunRun: Solar installations are just one facet of a broader approach to managing energy costs. With that in mind, SunRun helps customers to save money and energy not only through solar, but also through energy audits that help customers rein in their energy spending. SunRun offers both purchase and lease options, giving residents the flexibility to choose among up-front payments, financing, or paying on a traditional leasing plan.
Local Solar Installers Operating in Massachusetts
Given the popularity of solar power in Massachusetts, it should come as no surprise that the state has more than 300 solar installation companies. A few of these stand out in a crowded field.
While Boston Solar also operates in New Hampshire and Connecticut, as their name suggests the company’s operations are concentrated in Massachusetts. In addition to solar panel installations, they also offer heating and cooling and winterization services, giving them the capability to address a wide range of energy efficiency needs for residential customers.
Bright Planet Solar emphasizes ease of installation and maintenance. They consult with homeowners before the installation, design a PV system that’s appropriate both to the customer’s needs and the home’s esthetics, handle the often complex morass of permits and paperwork, and oversee the installation process in addition to providing an app that allows for system monitoring through most mobile devices.
SolarFlair Energy combines decades of experience in solar with an exclusive focus on Massachusetts, enabling them to leverage unmatched regulatory knowledge as well as knowledge of local building codes and architectural styles. Furthermore, the company also offers a plethora of purchase, financing, and lease options, enabling residential customers to design a solar solution that works best for their unique needs.
New England Clean Energy, based in Hudson, Massachusetts, notes that the absence of moving parts in the typical photovoltaic system means that you’re not likely to see them often for service calls. However, they also emphasize their local roots and ties to the communities they serve, which gives them a degree of accountability that’s often greater than that which is found with their out-of-state competition.
By 2012, Massachusetts had eclipsed California as the nation’s largest producer of solar power. This is due in no small part to the fact that nearly every town and city in the Commonwealth has commercial photovoltaic arrays. However, significant credit is also due to the fact that homeowners have proven no less enthusiastic about embracing the environmental and cost benefits of solar.
If you’re not on board yet but you’re seriously considering solar, the timing couldn’t be better. Prices continue to fall for the purchase or lease of PV systems, and there’s still time to take advantage of the generous state and Federal incentives for residential solar. Just as helpful? There’s no shortage of qualified installers to make your solar dreams a reality.