Massachusetts is a state with a deep interest in the solar industry, ranked as the 8th in the Solar National Ranking. With over 111,810 certified solar installations comprised of several large photovoltaic (PV) projects and many residential rooftop solar systems, Massachusetts has a total installed capacity of 3,046.72 MW. This means that 18.4% of its power consumption is supplied directly by solar energy.
Due to a 45% price reduction for solar generation equipment alongside federal and local solar incentives, the solar industry has been rapidly growing in Massachusetts for the last 5 years. The state is currently planning to increase its total solar installed capacity by 50.98% to achieve a capacity of 4,599.94 MW.
What you should know about Solar Energy in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has three main electric utilities in the state: National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil. These utilities with predefined territories are in charge of transmitting the power to customers all over the state, maintaining the grid, and restoring electrical outages.
Electricity rates in Massachusetts are higher than in other states. Massachusetts has an average electric utility rate of 21.92 ¢/kWh, which is 68.48% more than the national average. This is partly a consequence that even though Massachusetts has a consumption rate per capita lower than the national average, the state consumes twice as much power as it generates and has to import that excess power consumed.
Homeowners in Massachusetts have a monthly average power consumption of 574 kilowatts-hours, ranking the state as the 44th state in the Energy Consumed Per Capita ranking by the EIA. While homeowners consume 68.48% less power than the national average, due to high electricity rates, they end up paying an average monthly bill of $125.89 which is 9% more than the national average.
This high cost for electric power is one of the main reasons why Massachusetts residents can highly benefit from going solar, allowing them saving money on electric bills and contributing to the environment.
Is it worth going solar in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts electrical infrastructure is not able to produce as much energy as the state demands, which is why it has to import almost half of its electric power and set high electricity rates. These rates make solar energy a profitable investment with payback periods as low as 4 years after incentives.
With the most expensive electricity rates in New England, Massachusetts has an average electricity rate of 21.92 ¢/kWh. This is 68.48% higher than the national average, 87% higher than the rates in Florida, and even 125% more than Washington.
With electricity rates so high, it is no mere luck that homeowners in Massachusetts consume less power per capita in comparison to other states. With an average energy consumption of 574 kWh a month and 6,888 kWh a year, Massachusetts residents consume 35% less power than the national average.
The best strategy in the short and long term for homeowners in this state is to generate their own energy with a rooftop solar system. Massachusetts lawmakers know this, which is why there are so many profitable federal and local incentives that we will break down later on.
When getting a solar system in Massachusetts, the perfect fit for the average homeowner is a small-medium rooftop solar generation system of 5 – 6 kW DC. This system can generate up to 6,537 – 7,632 kWh in AC power per year and easily offset 94% or up to 100% of your electricity bill, depending on the size of your system.
A 5 – 6 kW DC solar system can cost up to $15,050 – $17,160 before solar incentives. After applying the federal tax credit which reduces the cost of your solar system by 26%, your system cost reduces to $11,130 – $12,756. This cost is reduced even further after applying local incentives, which is why Massachusetts has a payback period of around 4 – 5 years for PV systems.
This solar generation system can save you an annual average of $1,510.68. In the 25 years lifespan of a PV system, you would have saved an average of $37,767, which is around 3 times the cost of your 5 – 6 kW DC solar system.
While solar energy will always be profitable for citizens in Massachusetts, there is no better time to go solar than the present. The solar federal incentive that grants you a 26% dollar-for-dollar reduction over the cost of your PV system, is going to be reduced to 22% by 2023.
How much energy will your solar system generate?
While Massachusetts has an average sun index of 0.83, PV modules 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 can perceive solar radiation levels of 2.60 to 6.40 kWh by a square meter per day.
These solar radiation levels can be easily translated for your PV modules as an average of 3 – 3.5 hours a day of full solar radiation at maximum efficiency. With an installed system of 5 – 6 kW DC, this can be translated as a yearly power generation of 6,537 – 7,632 kWh in AC power.
Payment options for your PV system in Massachusetts
When buying a rooftop solar system for your home in Massachusetts, there are several payment options to choose from. Most options make you eligible for the federal and local incentives, allowing you to save thousands of dollars and reducing the payback period of your PV system. We will further explain to you the payment options so you can pick the best one for you.
- Solar purchase/cash: A cash purchase for a rooftop solar system is the easiest, simplest, and most straightforward payment option. This way you can fully own your PV system and be fully eligible for federal and local solar incentives.
- Solar loans: Massachusetts has one of the best solar loan incentives in the country, called the Mass Solar Loan Program. This payment option is simple, easy, and allows you to pay your PV system in 10 years at a maximum interest of the Wall Street Journal prime rate + 2.75% while owning your PV system and being fully eligible for solar incentives.
- Solar leasing: The solar lease is a payment method where you do not own the rooftop solar generation system but pay a monthly operating fee to your solar lessor. This allows you to enjoy all of the solar energy produced by the solar system at a fixed rate with no up-front cost for the PV modules, but will not grant you eligibility for solar incentives.
- Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPAs): The solar PPA is similar to solar leasing, meaning that you do not own the PV modules but pay the solar company for the energy. In this case, you only pay for the power you consumed at a set rate of cents per kilowatt-hour. You are also not eligible for solar incentives, but do not have to pay any up-front cost for the modules.
What are the solar incentives in Massachusetts?
As promised, we will now break down each of the federal and local solar incentives that you might be eligible for as a residential PV system owner. These incentives are very profitable and greatly reduce the overall cost of your solar system while providing you with many benefits that make solar energy even more attractive than it already is.
Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC)
The Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) also known as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, is one of the best and the most financially attractive solar incentives for taxpayers. This incentive grants you a 26% reduction of the overall cost of your solar system including installation, against your federal income taxes.
If the overall credit of the solar incentives surpasses your tax payment, the excess credit will be carried out for the following tax years. By 2023, the incentive amount will be reduced to 22%.
Residential renewable energy income tax credit
The Residential renewable energy income tax credit is similar to the Federal Solar Tax Credit. This local incentive grants you a 15% reduction from the overall cost of your rooftop solar generation system against your resident income tax. The coverage of the incentive includes products and installation costs.
The maximum incentive amount that you can receive from this incentive is $1,000. If the incentive amount is greater than your income tax liability, you can just roll over the excess credit for the next three years.
Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program
The SMART Program is one of the main local incentives established by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to promote the development of the solar industry in the state and incentive homeowners to increase the total installed capacity in the state. To be eligible for this program your home must belong to one of three main electric utilities.
This is a program that pays a fixed rate-per-kilowatt-hour depending on the AC power produced by your PV modules for 10 years. The goal of this program is to increase solar installations by 3,200 MW in the state, so you might be eligible only while the goal has not yet been reached.
For regular residential installations, you might opt for the low-income project of 25 kW AC with the compensation rate varying depending on your electric utility. For a rooftop solar generation system of 5 – 6 kW DC that produces an average of 6,537 – 7,632 kWh AC a year, you might end up saving $1,078 – $1,258 or up to $10,780 – $12,580 in the 10 years of the incentive.
As if this was not enough, the SMART program includes the offer of “adders”. Depending on your rooftop solar generation system, if you install certain additional characteristics like an energy storage system, you will receive additional savings with the “adders” part of the SMART program and save even more money.
Mass Solar Loan program
The Mass Solar Loan program is the best local incentive that you can apply for when looking to finance your PV system. With this incentive, you can request loans from $35,000 up to $60,000 with a payment period of up to 10 years.
To ensure the investment of citizens in the solar industry of Massachusetts, the incentive ensures a low interest rate. The maximum gross interest rate applicable for this incentive is the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) prime rate plus a 2.75% rate. For 2021, the interest rate would be set at 3.25% + 2.75%, meaning an interest rate of only 6% which is a much lower rate than for common loans.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption
Massachusetts has a sales tax of 6.25% over sale prices for most tangible 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 primary or auxiliary source of power for a home. You only need to present the completed Massachusetts Tax Form ST-12 to the vendor at the time of the purchase.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption
Regular upgrades performed in homes can increase the property value and in consequence increase the property taxes. With the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption, you are 100% exempted from the tax increase for the value added to your property by your PV modules for a period of up to 20 years.
MA Net Metering program
The Massachusetts Net Metering program is an incentive that allows homeowners to sell the excess power generated by their PV modules to the grid at full retail rate and receive net-metering credits in return. These credits allow you to partially or entirely offset your future monthly electrical bills.
One of the main benefits of the Net Metering program in Massachusetts is that you will not lose accumulated credits at the end of the metering year. These credits will never expire and are rolled over to the next billing period for as long as needed.
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.