Massachusetts is ranked by the US Solar Energy Industries Association as the state with the 8th highest installed solar capacity in the country. With over 111,273 certified solar installations made up of both large photovoltaic (PV) projects and smaller-scale residential rooftop solar systems, Massachusetts has a total installed capacity of just over 3,300 MW. This means that 18.4% of its power consumption is supplied by solar energy alone!
And this solar growth hasn’t been slowing down either- due in part to a hefty 45% price reductions for solar generation equipment across the past five years, and generous solar incentives from both the state and federal government, Massachusetts’ solar industry is still experiencing rapid growth. There are currently plans in the solar pipeline estimated to increase the state’s solar capacity by more than 50% by 2025, which would bring the state’s total installed solar capacity up to 5,200 MW.
Key Facts on Solar Energy in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has three main electric utilities: National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil. Each utility services customers in their own predefined territories, and all of them offer residential solar homeowners net-metering. This means that generated solar energy can be sold back to the grid if unused, and used to offset your monthly electricity bill! Even better, if you generate more total electricity than you use, your utility company has to cut you a check for the excess electricity you sold to them.
Electricity rates in Massachusetts are higher than in other states as well, making solar savings look more attractive. The state has an average electric utility rate of 21.92 ¢/kWh, 68% higher than the national average. This is partly due to Massachusett’s low levels of utility power generation – even though the average Massachusetts resident consumes less electricity compared to the national average, the state as a whole still ends up consuming twice as much power as it produces. This excess power needs to be imported, leading to high electricity costs.
More specifically, homeowners in Massachusetts have a monthly average power consumption of 574 kilowatts-hours, ranking the state at only 44th when it comes to Energy Consumed Per Capita. Despite that, high electricity rates mean that each homeowner ends up paying an average monthly bill of $125.89, 9% more than the national average!
All this means that there’s rich rewards to be found for going solar in Massachusetts, due to the high potential savings you can get for generating your own electricity. Installing solar for your Massachusetts home or business is a no-brainer – you can save the environment and save on your power bill at the same time!
Is it worth going solar in Massachusetts?
Yes, and and we’ve covered the main reason why in detail above. High electricity rates and low levels of average power consumption mean that an installed residential solar energy system can cover a large portion of your electricity use in Massachusetts, generating massive savings potential.
And a closer look at the math reveals that Massachusetts has a leading average solar payback period of 4 to 8 years! Let’s break this down a bit further:
The average Massachusetts homeowner opts for a small to medium scale rooftop solar generation system with a capacity of 5 – 6 kW DC. This system can generate up to 6,537 – 7,632 kWh in AC power per year, easily capable of offsetting up to 90% of your electricity bill, depending on your power usage habits.
A solar energy system of this scale usually costs up to $15,050 – $17,160 in Massachusetts, before factoring in solar incentives. After applying the federal solar tax credit which reduces the cost of your solar system by up to 26%, your system cost is reduced to approximately $11,130 – $12,756. This cost can be reduced even further if you’re applicable for one of the many generous local solar incentives available in Massachusetts (more on this later), potentially bringing down your solar payback period to as low as 4 years.
But even without taking local incentives into account, the average solar payback period in Massachusetts is still an impressively low 6 to 8 years. A typical 5-6 kW system can generate electricity worth $1,800 in the state each year, meaning that you can fully pack back the costs of your solar installation in as short as 6 years! Lifetime savings on electricity can tally up to $40,000 over the course of your solar energy system’s 25-year lifespan. Do keep in mind, however, that how much power your system generates is dependent on the suitability of your property for solar as well, which means these numbers should only be taken as guidelines.
And while solar energy will always be a great choice for Massachusetts residents, there is perhaps no better time to go solar than the present. The key solar federal tax credit is set to decline to 22% in 2023, from 26% right now, and is planned to be phased out altogether from 2024 onwards. Don’t miss out on this great incentive before its gone!
How much energy will your solar system generate?
While Massachusetts might be known for its long and cold winters and not for sunny weather, PV modules actually operate better in cold climates and are an excellent alternative for power generation in the state. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) database, Massachusetts receives solar radiation levels of 2.60 to 6.40 kWh by a square meter per day, more than enough to allow your solar panels to eventually turn a profit.
For example, these solar radiation levels easily translate into an average of 3 – 3.5 hours a day of full power generation of your solar panels, at maximum capacity. With an installed system capacity of 5 – 6 kW DC, 6,537 – 7,632 kWh of usable power can be generated.
Payment options for your PV system in Massachusetts
There are a variety of payment options for solar customers in Massachusetts. Most options still allow you to be eligible for federal and local incentives, helping you save thousands of dollars and reducing the payback period of your PV system. Here are some of the most popular solar payment methods in Massachusetts.
- Solar purchase/cash: The most straightforward payment option. Pay for your solar installation upfront and completely in cash, avoiding interest payments on solar loans and allowing you to fully own your solar energy system right away. Doing so also makes you fully eligible for federal and local solar incentives. We recommend picking this payment option if you have the cash available on hand.
- Solar loans: If you’ll prefer to pay off your solar energy system in installments, Massachusetts also has one of the best solar loan programs in the country, the Mass Solar Loan Program. This payment option allows you to pay off your PV system in up to 10 years. Interest rate on this loan is fixed at the Wall Street Journal prime rate + 2.75%. You’ll still end up owning your own solar energy system, and would still remain eligible for both state and federal solar incentives.
- Solar leasing: Instead of buying your own solar energy system, you can instead choose to lease one and use the solar power it generates for the period of your lease. You make payments to the solar owner each month, and in exchange you get access to all electricity generated by the system for that month. While this does allow you to use solar energy without needing to make an upfront investment, you will not be eligibility for solar incentives since you have not actually installed any solar of your own.
- Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPAs): Similar to solar leasing, a solar PPA allows you to pay for solar electricity at some fixed rate. Instead of purchasing the total output of a solar energy system for a month, however, PPAs are long-term agreements where you agree to pay a fixed rate for each kWh for solar electricity you use. Again, you get to take advantage of solar power without needing to make an upfront investment, and PPAs also lock you into a single price for electricity for many years, unlike utility electricity costs which can arbitrarily change from year to year. PPA customers are not eligible for solar incentives.
What solar incentives are available in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts residents are lucky – in addition to the generous federal solar tax credit, they’re also eligible for a wide variety of different state solar incentives. Here’s a closer look at some of these programs, and how they making going solar even sweeter of a deal for you:
Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC)
The Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) also known as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, is a federal scheme available to all US residents. This generous solar incentive grants you a federal tax credit worth 26% of your total installation costs.
Even better, if this tax credit exceeds the total amount of federal tax you owe that year, the excess can be carried over into the next year as the following year’s tax credit. Make sure to hurry though – solar energy systems installed in 2023 are only eligible for a 22% tax credit, and the program is phased out altogether from 2024 onwards.
Residential renewable energy income tax credit
Similar to the Federal Solar Tax Credit, Massachusetts’ residential renewable energy income tax credit grants you a state tax credit equal to 15% of total solar installation costs. Unlike the federal scheme, however, this state tax credit is capped at a maximum of $1,000. If this incentive amount is greater than your income tax liability, the excess credit can be rolled over for the next three years.
Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program
The SMART Program is a local state incentive established by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), with the goal of promoting local solar industry growth and incentivizing state homeowners to install more residential solar. This incentive is only available to utility customers served by one of the three main utility providers in the state: National Grid, Eversource, or Unitil
This incentive program pays you a fixed rate per-kilowatt-hour of solar power that your solar panels generate for the first 10 years of your system’s lifetime. The program has a total capacity of 3,200 MW evenly distributed between the three utility providers, and once this capacity has all been filled the program will no longer accept new applicants.
The incentive rate you can receive varies according to which utility provider your home is connected to, and how many customers before you have also signed up for the incentive. For an average-sized rooftop solar generation system of 5 – 6 kW DC that produces approximately 6,537 – 7,632 kWh AC a year, the incentive might end up saving you around $1,078 to $1,258 annually, or up to $12,580 for the whole 10 years in which the incentive is paid out to you.
To top it all off, the SMART program also includes certain “adders”. If your installed residential solar system has certain characteristics, such as a connected battery storage system, you can apply for and receive even more incentive payouts from the program.
Mass Solar Loan program
The Mass Solar Loan program makes it easy for Massachusetts residents to finance their PV systems. This incentive allows you to request solar loans between $35,000 to $60,000, with a payment period of up to 10 years.
This incentive guarantees low interest rates for eligible applicants. The maximum gross interest rate under this program is equal to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) prime rate plus an additional 2.75%. For 2021, this works out to 3.25% + 2.75%, giving you an interest rate of only 6% a year! Compared to taking out an ordinary bank loan, these low rates are a steal.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption
Massachusetts collects a sales tax equal to 6.25% of sale prices for most types of sold personal property. With the Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption, you are 100% exempted from this tax when buying any solar equipment that will be used a as renewable source of power for your home or business. You may need to present a completed Massachusetts Tax Form ST-12 to the vendor at the time of the purchase, however.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption
Installing a solar energy system for your home will generally increase its property value. However, due to Massachusetts’ Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption, you are exempt from paying any additional property taxes on value added to your property from an installed PV system. This tax exemption lasts for a period of up to 20 years.
MA Net Metering program
The Massachusetts Net Metering program is an incentive that allows homeowners to offset their energy bills directly by generating solar power. If you manage to generate even more power than you use, the excess electricity is credit to your future utility bill at full retail rates in the form of net metering credits.
Best of all, Massachusetts’ net metering program is unique in that it is one of the few states where accumulated credits never expire. These credits simply roll on year after for as long as you remain a customer of the utility. To be eligible, your home must be connected to an invester-owned utility in Massachusetts, with the major ones being National Grid, Eversource or Unitil.
Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts: Our top choices
Choosing the right company is important when you decide to go solar. The company will provide you with solar equipment, perform proper installations, and much more, which is why you must choose the right solar installer for your Massachusetts home. To help you pick the best option, we compiled a list with our top choices using the following criteria when selecting each company.
- The Reputation of the company – We analyzed certified reviews and average ratings to pick only the solar companies with the best reputation.
- Quantity of solar projects – It is important to aim for experience, so we choose companies that have performed tons of small and large projects with satisfying results.
- Product brands and their quality – Product brands and quality are important when going solar, which is why we picked the companies that work hand-by-hand with the best solar products.
- Partnership and certifications – Manufacturer partnership and installer certifications are important to ensure the best quality in a solar company and its workforce.
- Warranty – The best solar companies ensure you about their quality and have liability for their work, which is why we looked into the warranty and policies of each company picked.
All Energy Solar is a multi-state solar installer established in 2009 with an excellent reputation and quality results for residential customers. The company has a special focus on the proper design and installation of PV systems with custom-sized systems.
With this company, you might choose from the services of installing or repairing & maintenance of PV modules. They install solar modules and energy storage systems working alongside brands like Enphase Energy, SMA America, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Jinko Solar, JA Solar, Tesla, and LONGi Solar.
SunPower is one of the best and oldest companies in the solar industry established in 1970 with over 35 years of solar experience. The company has one of the best reputations in the US and does not only provide quality installations but all-in-one residential solar generation products with storage and monitoring systems.
The SunPower Corporation provides everything you will need for a rooftop solar generation system with quality certified results. The best thing about this company is that they have their own designed and manufactured PV modules with excellent efficiency and other solar products with an integrated system specially designed for residential customers.
New England Clean Energy is an outstanding solar installer established in 2006 in the state of Massachusetts. This solar installer has over 1,000 certified installations with satisfying results for all types of customers.
This company provides installation services alongside electric contracting, repair & maintenance of PV modules, and financing services. When going solar with New England Clean Energy you might choose solar products from quality brands like SunPower Corporation, Unirac, Inc., Canadian Solar Inc., LG, Panasonic, SolarEdge Technologies, Hanwha Q Cells, and Solaria.
PlugPV is a solar company established with more than a decade of experience in the solar industry. This company provides quality installations with onsite supervision and certified satisfying results for numerous customers of the company.
The company provides a various range of services including PV modules installation, construction, roofing, electric contracting, repair & maintenance of panels, and even installations of community solar systems. When going solar with PlugPV, you might acquire products from quality brands like IronRidge, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Q CELLS, Tesla, Solaria.
Venture Solar is a solar company focused on product performance, aesthetics, and quality service for the customers. This company performs all types of solar installations in different states including Massachusetts.
With Venture Solar you have a solid PV modules installer with electrical contracting and a quality repair & maintenance service for solar equipment, they even offer consulting services to optimize the energy efficiency at homes and business. This company provides quality products from brands like LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Trina Solar, SnapNRack, Q CELLS, Dual Rack, Osprey Power Platform, and Tesla.
ReVision Energy is a quality solar installer established in 2003. With over 18 years of experience and a fully employee-owned solar company, ReVision Energy is one of the best solar installers offering services in several states of New England.
This company offers all types of solar products installations including solar heating, solar air-conditioning, and quality installations for PV modules and related services. When choosing ReVision Energy, you might choose from a variety of quality products from brands like Lumin, LG Solar, Q CELLS, and SolarEdge.
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