Solar in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is known for being the landing place of the Mayflower, home to the first subway, and birthplace of four presidents. But one thing residents may not be aware of is that their home state was ranked sixth nationally for producing solar energy in 2016.
Massachusetts has a proud history of investment in renewable energy and the state now has roughly 15,095 people working within the solar industry. Companies in the Massachusetts solar market not only install solar arrays for residential areas and businesses, they also manufacture components for solar panels.
Ranked Sixth for Solar in the U.S.
In 2015, Massachusetts produced 9.4% of its electricity using renewable energy resources, with about two-thirds of that from solar, wind and biomass.
Massachusetts earned its impressive solar ranking with a total solar capacity of 1,199 MW, of which, 309 MW can be found in residential installations, 811 MW in commercial installations and 78 MW in utility-scale investments.
Massachusetts’ solar capacity is large enough to supply 191,000 homes with renewable energy and this number will continue to rise over the next five years as a proposed 2,430 MW of solar electric capacity is added to the state—more than 3 times the amount of solar installed over the last 5 years.
Part of the reason for this dramatic rise in solar capability is the low cost of solar installations which have dropped significantly in the past five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Home Solar in Massachusetts
Massachusetts residents are increasingly adding home solar to their roofs. The state bolsters its investment in solar by providing a wide range of incentives at the state and federal level. Depending on how the panels are purchased, people looking to go solar in the state can look forward to up-front solar rebates, solar tax credits and premium feed-in tariffs.
In December 2015, DOER joined with the Mass Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to launch a $30 million Residential Solar Loan Program to help fund loans for home solar installations.
Many Home solar companies, including NRG Home Solar, offer numerous ways to pay for home solar panels in Massachusetts, including power purchase agreements (PPAs), leases and loans to help people go solar.
The driving force behind the success of the Massachusetts solar industry is the net metering system. The state had set a solar net metering goal of 400 MW, but this was surpassed four years ahead of schedule and the state has had to raise the bar to 1.6GW by 2020.
Net metering is a billing mechanism that gives credits to people with home solar panels when they add electricity to the grid. For example, if a homeowner has a solar installation on their rooftop, the system may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home has net metering, that additional energy can earn homeowners credits on their electricity bills.
What About the Winter?
Home solar panels can weather Massachusetts’s winters. Contrary to popular belief, Mother Nature doesn’t play a huge role in solar production. Photovoltaic solar panels will often produce energy on cloudy days and will produce significant solar energy through the clouds. And during the winter, the snow’s life cycle on a solar panel is usually short-lived. NRG Home Solar is based in New Jersey and understands how solar works in the warm summers and frigid winters.