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 total solar installations, including 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 reduction for solar generation equipment across the past five years, as well as 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 not used directly (usually via a grid-tie inverter), offsetting your monthly electricity bill! Even better, if you generate more total electricity than you use, these credits roll over indefinitely to subsequent billing periods.
Electricity rates in Massachusetts are higher than in other states as well, making solar savings 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 reasons why in the passages 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 only 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 energy system by up to 26%, your costs will be reduced to approximately $11,130 – $12,756. This 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 recoup the costs of your solar installation in as short as 6 years! Lifetime savings on electricity can also tally up to more than $40,000 over the course of your 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 don’t necessarily require direct sunlight to function, meaning that solar is 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 each square meter per day, more than enough to allow your solar panels to quickly 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 for your solar panels at maximum capacity. With an installed system capacity of 5 – 6 kW DC, a total of 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.
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.
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 remain eligible for both state and federal solar incentives.
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 eligible 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. 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 can make 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 will be 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 of electricity 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 credited 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 year 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
Picking the right solar company to go with right off the bat can save you a ton of headaches further down the line. You don’t want to end up with a faulty system which breaks down all the time, or have your installer bail on you when repairs or maintenance are needed. That’s why we’ve compiled a list below of the top solar companies in Massachusetts for you. Here’s a brief overview of the important qualities to look out for:
- Customer Reputation – We analyzed verified customers reviews and average rating scores, picking out companies which have earned the trust of their customers.
- Experience – How long has the solar company been in business? How many solar projects have they undertaken, and what types of installation are they most specialized in? These are all important considerations for picking out the right solar company for you.
- Products and brands carried – Some solar companies only carry a single brand of solar equipment, while others give their customers a wide variety of choices. Using equipment from trusted high-quality brands lead to more efficient and durable systems.
- Licenses and certifications – Always make sure that the solar company you pick has the proper electrical licensing necessary for solar work in Massachusetts. A NABCEP certification, while not legally required for solar installers, is also a plus.
- Warranty – It’s almost inevitable that your solar energy system will eventually run into issues sometime across its 20 to 25-year lifespan. While a quick fix or part replacement is often all that is required, it’s important to have a warranty you can rely on in these situations.
Top Solar Companies in Massachusetts
Not sure where to being looking for a great solar company in Massachusetts? Our list below can be a great starting point!
All Energy Solar
All Energy Solar is a multi-state solar installer established in 2009. They specialize in coming up with custom designs and installation methods for residential solar energy systems.
All Energy Solar has their headquarters in Minnesota, but the company also employs local solar installation teams able to serve customers in Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Their Massachusetts office is located in Springfield.
Certification and Licensing
All Energy Solar holds the required electrical contractor license in Massachusetts for solar installation work. They also employ NABCEP-certified PV Installation Professionals, though none are currently listed for their Massachusetts location.
All Energy Solar isn’t just a solar installer – the company is also licensed as a building contractor, making them experts at designing PV systems to suit different properties and roof types. The full-service solar company is also able to repair and provide maintenance for existing solar energy systems, in addition to carrying out fresh installations.
All Energy Solar carries solar modules and renewable batteries from leading brands such as Enphase Energy, SMA America, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Jinko Solar, JA Solar, Tesla, and LONGi Solar.
All Energy Solar enjoys fantastic reviews from many of its customers, and boasts a perfect 5-star Google rating for its Massachusetts location with 119 reviews. They’ve also received a high 4.87-star rating on Solar Reviews after 353 reviews, making them the top-rated Massachusetts solar company on the platform.
The installer also enjoys a great 4.87-star customer rating on the BBB, where they are accredited with an A+. While they have received 5 complaints on the site, each issue has been addressed in detail. Many of these complaints also concern issues with the customer’s utility company, which is out of All Energy Solar’s control.
New England Clean Energy
New England Clean Energy was founded in 2006 in Massachusetts. The company has since installed over 2,000 residential solar energy systems for their many satisfied customers across New England.
New England Clean Energy is headquartered in Hudson, Massachusetts. They also have office locations in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, and serve solar customers across most of these three states.
Certification and Licensing
New England Clean Energy holds the required Electrical Contractor license for Massachusetts. The company does not appear to have any NABCEP-certified employees at the moment, however.
New England Clean Energy prides itself as a company with strong local roots and vast experience with installing solar energy systems suitable for the New England climate. They aim to educate their customers on solar benefits, and not pressure them into paying for more expensive systems than necessary.
The company carries products from a wide range of trusted solar brands, including SunPower , Unirac, Inc., Canadian Solar Inc., LG, Panasonic, SolarEdge Technologies, Hanwha Q Cells, and Solaria.
New England Clean Energy has received the bulk of its reviews on the Solar Reviews website, where it has an impressive 4.79-star rating derived from 289 customer reviews. The company is less well-reviewed on Google, however, with its main Massachusetts location only attracting 23 total reviews and a 4.1-star rating.
New England Clean Energy is accredited with an A+ on the BBB, though it has only received 9 customer reviews on the site. While many customers were happy with their service, some complained that the company missed scheduled deadlines for completing solar projects.
PlugPV is a relative newcomer to the Massachusetts solar industry, having only been in business for four years. This young company is led by a team of experienced solar veterans however, with many decades of industry experience under their belts.
PlugPV is headquartered in New York state, but the company’s service area extends across state lines to include both Massachusetts and Connecticut as well.
Licensing and Certifications
PlugPV only holds a Home Improvement Contractor license for Massachusetts, meaning that they might be relying on subcontractors for electrical work. The company’s CEO Steve Wiegel is a NABCEP-certified PV Installer and Technical Sales Professional.
PlugPV is a full-service, turnkey solar installer. They are committed to taking care of all parts of the solar installation for their customers, from the initial filing of paperwork to making sure that your installed system connects properly to the local grid.
The company also offers construction and roofing-related services, in addition to solar. Customers can pick between products from high-quality brands such as IronRidge, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Q CELLS, Tesla, Solaria.
PlugPV has a great track record on Google, where the company holds a 4.8-star rating after 81 reviews for its New York headquarters. The company also has a perfect 5-star rating on Facebook from 31 reviewers.
The company has only received single-digit reviews on Solar Reviews and the BBB however, and holds a 4.18-star and 2.33-star rating respectively on these two sites. PlugPV is also only rated C by the BBB, and has a history of not addressing negative reviews or complaints online, unlike many other solar companies.
Venture Solar aims to provide aesthetic, high-performing solar products to their customers. This Brooklyn-based company was only founded in 2015, but has already built a reputation for providing quality service to customers.
Venture Solar is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They mainly serve customers in the four states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Licensing and Certifications
Venture Solar holds a Home Improvement Contractor license for Massachusetts, though it does hold state Electrical Contractor licenses in both Connecticut and New York. The company’s New York headquarters employs multiple NABCEP-certified PV Installation Professionals.
Venture Solar has carried out more than 4,000 residential solar installations since 2015, and each system they sell is backed by a 25-year product warranty. The company also offers single-day solar installations, and promises to pay customers $100 if they can find another offer from a different solar company which promises them higher solar savings.
Venture Solar is able to provide energy efficiency consultations as well, helping homeowners cut down on energy costs. They primarily use LG Platinum Pro solar panels in their installations.
Venture Solar has received numerous great customer reviews online, though the majority of these reviews have been posted for their New York location. The company has a high 4.5-star rating on Google with 287 reviews, and a similarly impressive 4.46-rating on Solar Reviews after 230 reviews.
And while there have been 5 complaints lodged against the company on the BBB, each complaint has been addressed in detail and 3 resolved. Many of these complaints concerned delays with installation work, which the company has attributed to covid-19 supply disruptions.
Founded in 2003, ReVision Energy is a fully employee-owned solar company with over 18 years of solar experience across New England.
ReVision Energy was founded and headquartered in Portland, Maine. The company today has additional offices in New Hampshire and North Handover in Massachusetts. They are able to install solar for customers in all three of these New England states.
Licensing and Certification
ReVision Energy employs multiple NABCEP-certified PV Installation professionals across its office locations, and holds an Electrical Contractor license for Massachusetts.
ReVision Energy has built over 9,000 solar energy systems since the company was founded in 2003, and they remain one of New England’s largest and most trusted solar installers today.
ReVision Energy is committed to giving back to the community and its employees as well – the installer is a certified B Corp and a 100% employee-owned company, with each of its 250 employees all having some say in company operations. They have received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including being named the “Greenest Contractor” and #1 Rooftop Solar Contractor” by Solar Power World magazine in recent years.
ReVision Energy has an extremely high 4.81-rating on Solar Reviews even after 213 total reviews. The company also has a perfect 5-star rating on Facebook based on 130 opinions.
And while it has received fewer Google reviews in comparison, it’s rating on the platform is still impressive: ReVision Energy has a 4.9 rating from 34 reviews for its Massachusetts location, and a 4.8 rating for its Maine headquarters. Customers often praised the company for being well organized, professional and quick at responding to questions.
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