How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Massachusetts
It pays to go solar in Massachusetts. With a long list of incentives and programs, from statewide initiatives to local utility rebates, solar power is definitely taking off in The Commonwealth. In fact, solar power here is growing incredibly rapidly, having nearly doubled in capacity over the last three years. If you’re going to install solar panels or use solar heating in your Massachusetts home, you’ll want to be familiar with the dizzying array of programs on offer. Here’s a briefing of what you need to know to install solar in your state.
Massachusetts Solar Productivity
While it might not feel like it in the middle of a harsh nor’easter, Massachusetts actually gets its fair share of sun. When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined the sun index levels for all the states in 2006, in fact, it found that Massachusetts ranked 18th in the nation for the amount of sun it receives, coming in at a UV index level of 0.83. By comparison, Nevada, the most sun-drenched state in the nation, has a sun index level of 1.19. In fact, eastern parts of the state get enough light to generate around 4.5 to 5 kilowatt hours of power a day. In the western corridor, that number is more like 4 to 4.5 hours on average. That makes Massachusetts a good place to set up your own residential photovoltaic array.
Solar Popularity in Massachusetts
Massachusetts currently has about 841 megawatts of solar power installed—which, according to the state government, has the same environmental impact as taking 73,000 cars off the roads. In fact, the state has nearly doubled its solar capacity numbers since 2013, ranking the state sixth in the nation for installations, according to industry estimates.
Average Massachusetts Residential Electricity Use and Cost
While you can’t really argue that Massachusetts rooftops get the kind of electricity productivity that you see in the southwest, the high price of electricity makes a supplementary source of energy a real asset in the Bay State. Massachusetts residents pay an average 14.8 cents per kilowatt to power their homes—compared to the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt, that’s quite a jump. Combined with the state’s generous offerings, solar power is starting to look better and better all the time.
Installing Solar in Massachusetts
If you’re looking to go solar in your Massachusetts home, you’re in luck: you’ll have plenty of installers to choose from who can complete the project. In fact, industry estimates show that there are over 400 installers operating in the state borders, giving you lots of options. Meanwhile, you can also choose to hire a national company to perform your install—unlike some states, large national companies do operate in your area.
Massachusetts State Solar Support
The Bay State government has demonstrated massive support for solar power amongst its residents. While many governments have passed renewable portfolio standards, which set goals for the amount of power states want to receive from all renewable sources on a certain timeline, Massachusetts is one of the few states to provide specific guidelines for solar power alone. In fact, the state’s initial goal to install 250 megawatts of solar power was met and exceeded four years ahead of schedule, therefore, at the end of 2015, the state legislature amended the portfolio to include a more aggressive goal to achieve 1,600 megawatts of solar power by 2020. Overall, the state has a goal to purchase 30 percent of its energy from clean power sources by that year.
Those numbers didn’t happen without state support— Massachusetts provides robust incentives and statewide loan programs that make solar much more attractive to residents in the state. Although there has been some controversy as of late regarding Massachusetts’ renewable energy certificates and net metering programs, owing to incentives nearing their expiration, given the state’s scrupulous track record regarding clean energy, it’s doubtful that these programs will be put on hold for long for solar residencies throughout the state.
Massachusetts State Solar Incentives
Massachusetts state law is packed with incentives to make solar easier and more affordable for residents here. Particularly of interest is the state’s generous solar loan program, which has been passed to deter residents from signing on to potentially predatory solar leasing programs. That legislature makes Massachusett’s solar policies some of the most progressive and pro-homeowner in the nation.
Personal Alternative Energy and Energy Conservation Patent Income Tax Deduction: Any resident who has sold or leased solar equipment, including PV arrays, solar space heaters, or solar water heaters is eligible for a personal tax credit on their income taxes.
Net Metering: All investor owned utilities in Massachusetts must offer customers net metering, a popular incentive that meters the energy consumption of solar households against the electricity they return to the grid. The state’s net metering program is very flexible, and allows residents to share metering across different residences through virtual net metering—additionally, net excess credits can be rolled over on customer’s bills indefinitely or resold to other homeowners as renewable energy credits.
Mass Solar Loan Program: In order to compete with solar leasing organizations, the Mass Solar Loan Program offers large loan amounts to residents who hope to purchase solar equipment. Loan amounts range between $35,000 to $60,000, with a maximum interest rate of 3.25 percent and a loan period of 10 years.
Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit: Homeowners who install solar energy systems on the houses are eligible for a rebate on state income taxes, worth 15 percent of system costs, up to $1,000.
Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption: All solar equipment purchased by residents in Massachusetts is exempt from sales tax—a 6.25 percent savings. With solar system costs averaging between $25,000 to $35,000, that represents a significant discount.
Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption: Solar equipment installed on your home has been shown to increase property rates. Luckily, if you live in Massachusetts, the state government exempts you from paying any additional taxes related to the installation of solar equipment, so you can reap the benefits on your valuation.
Additionally, in Massachusetts, residents are also eligible for a national tax credit, known as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. When applied to income taxes, this program returns residencies that have installed solar panels a generous portion of the cost of the system—up to 30 percent of the retail price. To see if you are eligible, return IRS form 5695 when you file your income taxes.
Massachusetts Local Solar Incentives
In addition to the wide array of solar programs on offer from the state legislature, many local utilities also provide their residents with rebates and loan programs. Here are some of the most notable options:
HEAT Loan Programs: Most cities in the state offer Massachusetts’ HEAT Loan Program, which offers residents a seven-year loan of up to $25,000 for the purchase and installation of energy efficiency equipment, including solar water heaters. Some homeowners may even qualify for zero-interest financing on their loans through the program. For more information, visit the program’s website.
Chicopee Electric Light Residential Solar Rebate Program: Customers of Chicopee Electric Light can receive a rebate, worth $0.50 per watt of the system’s rated capacity, up to $2,500, when they install a solar energy system in their home.
Concord Municipal Light Plant Solar Photovoltaic Rebate Program: Customers of Concord Municipal Light Plant may qualify for a personal rebate when they add solar panels to their homes, worth $625 per system kilowatt capacity, with a maximum incentive of $3,125. Residents must comply with the utility’s warranty and inspection guidelines.
Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant Residential Photovoltaic Rebate Program: Those residents served by Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant may be eligible for a $1.50-per-watt rebate– worth up to $4,500– for homeowners who install solar photovoltaic systems on their residencies.
Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Program: Customers served by the following utilities—Town of Ashburnham, Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company, Town of Holden, Holyoke City, Nantucket Electric Company, The Narragansett Electric Company, City of Russell, Town of Templeton, and Western Massachusetts Electric Company can receive a rebate for solar space heaters or solar water heaters that they install on their property. The maximum incentive is $4,500 per building or 40 percent of total installed costs, whichever amount is less.
Hudson Light & Power Photovoltaic Incentive Program: Residents of Hudson can receive one of two tiers of solar rebates for photovoltaic arrays installed on their rooftops. Rebate class is determined by the angle of the panel orientation—panels oriented between 170° and 220° are eligible for $1.00 per watt system capacity, and panels oriented between 220° and 300° receive $1.25 per watt, with rebates topping out at $5,000 and $6,000, respectively.
Marblehead Municipal Light Department Solar Rebate Program: Marblehead Municipal Light Department offers customers who install solar PV systems on their homes a rebate worth $0.25 to $1.70 per watt of rated capacity, worth up to $3,500.
Reading Municipal Light Department Residential Renewable Energy Rebates: Residents of Winchendon, North Reading, Reading, and Lynnfield, who are served by Reading Municipal Light Department, are eligible for a rebate on solar equipment, worth up to $2.50 per watt, with a maximum rebate of $2,000. Systems must be warranted for 20 years to be eligible.