Hurry! DOER has just released the new SMART solar incentive guidelines that will replace the SREC incentive. However, you can still get a SREC factor of 0.8 if you sign up for solar now before the new program is legislated. If you don't sign up in time there will still be incentives under the new program, but the value will be lower.
Massachusetts solar power facts
Average cost of a 5kw solar power system in 2016
Price shown before incentives
Average payback time
Average lifetime savings
Price shown after repayments of capital
Levelized cost of solar energy
If you don't get solar
The forecast average utility price over the next 25 years
(per kW of peak DC solar panels)
Cash flow graph based on cash purchase of a 5kw system
Solar companies in Massachusetts that provide pricing through the Solar-Estimate marketplace
Solar power in Massachusetts
With Massachusetts having one of the highest utility power costs in the nation solar is a great investment for your home despite the fact that there are fewer daily sun hours in Massachusetts, compared to other parts of the country.
Solar panels produce around 1130 kWh of power per year per kw of DC peak capacity installed. This compares to over 1400 kWh of power per kWh in markets like Southern California.
There is a $1,000 Massachusetts state tax credit that helps with the cost and this is in addition to the 30% federal tax credit meaning that on a 5kW system almost 40% of the cost is covered by tax credits.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) solar carve out awards SREC's for each MWh of electricity production from your panels. These SREC's have a real value and can add about $1000 to your return each year.
On January 31, 2017 DOER presented the final design for the next solar incentive program, the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program. The presentation can be found here, along with an audio recording of the meeting.
The new program will no longer use SREC's to incentivize solar but until the new program is finalized you can still get 0.8 SREC's per year per MWh of electricity your solar panels generate.
You should be able to buy good quality solar power systems from reputable installers in the range of $3.30 to $3.70 per watt, before incentives and fully installed.
At this sort of price level you are talking about a payback period of 5 years or less and an internal rate of return on investment of over 20%.
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Best brands of solar panels
To find the best brands of solar panels you can use America's most trusterd solar panel comparison and reviews website, SolarReviews.
However, reviews of solar panels can be a bit meaningless because most consumer owners have not had any issues and so whilst solar company reviews are very important when choosing solar installers they are of less use when choosing solar panels.
For more information to help you make an informed decision about this topic, I would recommend this article about buying solar panels.
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Compare solar quotes from the top solar companies in Massachusetts
How much electricity will solar panels produce in Massachusetts
Solar panels produce different amounts of energy in different locations.
Around the Boston area solar panels installed on a south facing 27 degree pitch roof will typically produce:
1,150 kWh per year per 1kw of peak DC (direct current) capacity
For more information about how your location, roof direction and roof tilt affects solar power production use the solar panels calculator and enter your address below.
What rebates, solar tax credits and other solar incentives are available in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts State Solar Tax Credit
Massachusetts has an excellent range of incentives that make it a very good investment to install solar panels and each of these specific state based incentives are in addition to the 30% federal solar tax credit.
In terms of up front incentives there is the Massachusetts state solar tax credit of 15% of the cost of a solar system up to a maximum $1,000.
The Solar Carve Out and Massachusetts SREC's
Massachusetts has a renewable energy target that is has mandated in legislation that requires utilities operating in the state to source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. The legislature has further mandated that part of this renewable energy must come from solar, this is known as the solar carve out. This program is designed to provide support to the solar industry until such time as 1600 MW of solar is installed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At the time of writing there are approximately 1300 MW of solar panels installed in Massachusetts.
The way they enact this program, so that the liable entities (the utilities) do not have to build this solar capacity themselves is to attach a Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) to each MWH of solar electricity generation in the state. You (or your installer) registers your installation and you can then create and trade these SREC certificates.
You used to get 1 SREC for each MWh (Megawatt hour) of solar electricity production. SREC's traded in the range of $235-$285 during 2016 but on 31 January 2017 DOER released the guidelines for the new SMART program that will replace the SREC system. Here is an extract of an email we got from DOER about this:
Interconnected projects 25 kW DC and less will continue to be qualified at an SREC Factor of 0.8 until the next program begins.
Once the new SMART program comes into effect the way you are compensated for installing solar panels on your house will change.
They have a block structure and for the first block (say 200 MW) the total compensation is 30 cents per kWh. However the incentive you get is 30 cents per kWh less the retail value of the power.
By way of example so if you are paying 18 cents for power the premium you would be offered would be 12 cents.
It is less generous than the previous system but still very generous and this is why Massachusetts will still be a leader in terms of being one of the best states in which to install solar panels for your home.
But for now the take home message from this page is to get your solar installed while the bridging rate of 0.8 SREC's per MWH of production for 20 years is still possible.
But hurry, once the new SMART program is legislated it will not be possible to get this.
In addition to presenting the final proposal for the SMART Program, DOER also announced a plan to provide an orderly transition from the SREC II Program as the development of the SMART Program is finalized. In order to ensure that there is not a significant gap in between the programs, projects over 25 kW DC can now receive an extension to their construction deadlines under the SREC II Program until the SMART Program goes into effect. Projects that apply for and receive this extension will be qualified with a reduced SREC Factor according to their Market Sector classification. The proposed SREC Factors under this extension are as follows:
|Market Sector||SREC Factor|
The value of SREC's is capped by the value of the alternative compliance payment that utilities must pay if they don't hold enough SREC's.
Net Metering in Massachusetts
Many people don't understand the importance of net metering policy to the residential solar industry. Solar by its nature generates most power during the middle of the day when most people are at work or school and little power is being used in the home. Net metering means that for every unit of surplus solar generation generated during the day you effectively get a credit for a kilowatt hour of power purchased from the grid at another time.
This gives you as an owner of a residential solar system the full retail value of every kWh (kilowatt hour) of power your solar system generates.
Massachusetts has recently extended its net metering and you can find out more about it here.
Simplified Massachusetts Interconnection guidelines
Connecting solar to the various different utilities in Massachusetts has recently become easier with the release of standard statewide interconnection guidelines that all utilities must follow https://sites.google.com/site/massdgic/home/interconnection
Mass Solar Loan Program Available to Massachusetts Residents
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) have launched the Mass Solar Loan program for Massachusetts residents interested in directly owning their solar electric projects.
Homeowners interested in the program can find a list of program solar installers and lenders on the program website, www.masssolarloan.com.
For a full rundown of all the the solar incentive schemes in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts solar incentive schemes/li>
- Is it better to lease or purchase solar panels in Massachusetts
Whilst third party ownership of solar panels has made various zero down solar lease and solar PPA products popular in Massachusetts generally speaking you will make far greater savings over the life of a system if you purchase your solar panels (whether with cash you have available or through a HELOC loan) rather than enter into a third party owned solar lease or Solar PPA agreement.
You can use the solar savings calculator to see the difference in the overall savings over the life of a system.
Regardless of what you want to know about the economics of installing solar panels for your home or business in Massachusetts we have a solar calculator that can show you exactly the information your require.
You can either use our full monty solar calculator that shows you everything you could possibly want to know or you can use one of our range of smaller calculators for specific solar calculations that focus on providing you only with the specific information you require.
What you can find out about installing solar panels in Massachusetts using our full monty solar calculator
This solar calculator requires you to input your address, utility company, your average monthly power spend - It tells you:
- What size solar system do you need?
Answers the question of How many solar panels do I need?
- How many square feet of roof space you need for solar panels
- Solar electricity production in annual kWh (kilowatt hours) you can expect from your solar system in Massachusetts
- The value of solar tax credits and other incentives you are entitled to based on the estimated size of system you need, your location and your utility provider.
- Likely cost based on an average of prices charged for solar systems of that size in the last year in Massachusetts or Boston;
- The likely payback period on your solar panels and your investment return.
- Your total lifetime solar savings based on each of the major solar finance options, a cash purchase, a cash purchase funded with a HELOC sol (home equity line of credit) and a zero down PPA or third party lease product.
If you want to see all of the above but also see live pricing, the three best solar deals available in your city and get binding quotes from each of these solar companies then use this solar panels calculator. This calculator requires you to also input your name and contact details because most of our 200+ installer partners will only authorize the sharing of their live solar pricing where we have validated that you are a real homeowner with a home in their service area. We respect the privacy of your data and only share your contact details with the solar companies you ask us to get binding quotes from.
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How much do solar panels cost in Massachusetts
$3.10 per watt
Cash purchased solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit
$3.50 per watt
Financed solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit
Av. 15 year term, 2.5% price escalator
What are the pros and cons of buying solar panels for your home in Massachusetts
The advantages of installing solar panels is there is both state based incentives and the federal tax credit. In addition, Massachusetts also has expensive power meaning overall the return on investment for an installation of residential solar panels in Massachusetts is the best in the nation.
The disadvantage of installing solar panels is that there is less overall solar irradiation in Massachusetts per year and so a solar system, produces less than it would in some other areas. However, the local incentives more than make up for this and I think Massachusetts home owners will be kicking themselves they didn't install solar panels while these generous incentives are around. Enter your details to calculate the cost and savings you are likely to get from installing solar panels for your home.