What You Need to Know to Go Solar in Massachusetts in 2021
Massachusetts has made it more affordable and more beneficial than ever to embrace a clean energy future with solar! With high solar resource, loan financing, and solar incentive programs (like SMART), Massachusetts has developed into one of the best residential solar markets in the country. Solar energy is the most cost-effective way for homes, businesses, and institutions in Massachusetts to lower their energy bills and lock in reliable energy costs from a proven clean energy solution: the sun.
How Does Solar Work in Massachusetts?
Residential folks in Massachusetts going solar have a few options, but the most popular is a grid-tied solar electric array.
‘Grid-tied’ means that the system will connect to the public utility grid, providing reliable backup power for when there is insufficient sun to power your home, such as at night or on cloudy days. A grid-tied system also sells excess power to the grid, so when it is sunny and your system is producing more solar power than you can use, you’ll send the power back to the public grid, powering your neighbor’s house and earning you a credit. The solar credits you earn can be used against future power consumption from the grid.
Most of the systems we design will meet close to 100% of a home’s needs in a given year. In the summer, you will tend to produce more power than you need and you will earn a credit. In the winter, you will tend to need more power than you produce and so you’ll consume those solar credits. At the end of the year, you should be at or close to zero credits in the solar bank, a situation we call ‘net zero’ (not to be confused with ‘off-grid,’ which means not using the utility grid at all!). And another thing about the winter; our climate may be cold, but cold is actually good for solar panels. In the brisk but sunny fall and spring, solar panels in Massachusetts will produce a disproportionately high amount of power, helping to make up for any power loss due to solar panels being covered in snow.
What are the Benefits of Going Solar?
Going solar is an environmental and economic win for you, your family, and your community! Solar is a clean, infinitely abundant resource, and helps the environment, what has opened up solar to vastly more people, and led it to become the fastest growing new electricity source in the US. Solar is now the least expensive source of electricity on the planet. Going solar is a strong economic investment, increases your property value while also decreasing electricity rates for you and your neighbors (even if they don’t use solar).
Transitioning to solar is the first step in regaining full control over your home’s energy needs. Thanks to continually evolving technology, you can use the abundant power of the sun to heat and cool your home, store power for backup in case of an outage, and even charge your car. Solar is an abundant resource that continues to become more affordable in Massachusetts, and offers so many benefits that you and your future family will enjoy for years to come.
What Massachusetts Solar Incentives are available?
Massachusetts offers numerous tax credits, including a renewable energy income tax credit calculated at 15% of your solar system’s cost. It also offers two key tax exemptions for solar users: a property tax exemption on the added home value from your solar system, and a solar project sales tax exemption on the installation.
On top of state specific incentives, you can receive an additional federal tax credit of up to 26%. The recent extension of the solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) continues to grow the value of solar for Massachusetts homeowners and businesses. Though the ITC is scheduled to decrease again at the end of 2022, there is hope that lawmakers will continue to support clean energy initiatives with future tax credits.
In addition to these tax incentives, Massachusetts adopted the SMART program, arguably the most significant incentive program adopted by Massachusetts in the last few years.
What is SMART and How Does it Benefit Me?
In late 2018, the state launched the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, which offers benefits to solar using homeowners and supports the growth of solar in Massachusetts. The program was introduced to help reach the state’s solar installation goals, and replaced the previous incentive program, Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SRECs), which was confusing and lacked sufficient support. In April 2020, the SMART program was doubled to offer higher incentives to further support the state’s renewable energy standard goal and sustain the solar industry through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the new SMART solar program, residential solar users are paid by the state for the energy their systems produce. Eligible customers receive a check from the utility based on a fixed $$$ number paid per kilowatt-hour of solar generated, multiplied by their actual solar generation EVERY month, for 10 years. If you have solar for your business it’s 20 years! The state also provides higher incentives for lower income customers to help make solar benefits more accessible to all in Massachusetts. For more info, head to our blog post about the SMART solar program.
As part of your installation, ReVision Energy will install a revenue grade meter to provide a verifiable measurement of production for the solar array and set you up with the information you need to register with the State’s self-reporting system. This system will enable you to verify and report your solar array’s production to the New England Power Generation Information System (NEPOOL-GIS). The SMART Credits are locked in for 10 years!
How Much Does Solar Cost in Massachusetts?
The easiest thing to do is to open up our solar calculator which will show different size systems and how the pricing varies.
Here’s an example breakdown of a standard rooftop mount 7.7kw solar electric array (24 panels). This system will produce around 9,600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to meet 100% of the needs of many homes.
$24,800 gross installed cost
– ($1,000) state income tax credit
– ($7,440) 26% federal tax credit
$16,360 total MA solar investment
Say you pay 22 cents per kilowatt-hour now for electricity, by saving you $2,112/yr + SMART benefits ~$1,000/yr for the first 10 years, the system will have paid for its installation cost in roughly 5 years and will continue producing free power for the next 20+ years. Solar power equipment is warrantied for 25 years, and we expect it to last for more like 40+ years.
Is financing available?
Yes! ReVision Energy is now able to offer solar loans for no money down, with monthly payments the same as or lower than your current electric bill. Here’s how it works: you start the process to talk about solar with ReVision Energy. We design you a system like we always have. Then, we get into a discussion of how a solar loan works and look at how to build the best loan package possible, often including complementary tech like water heaters and heat pumps, which accelerate the return of investment of solar.
How Do I Get Started?
Glad you asked!
Fill out this form below, or take a look at our guide to going solar if you are interested in learning more.