Solar Energy and Community Solar in Massachusetts [2024 Guide]

Sun setting over a community solar farm in Massachusetts
  • Oct 1, 2023

In Massachusetts, solar energy is rapidly growing as a clean and efficient alternative to traditional fossil fuels. This growth is driven by a combination of state-level initiatives, incentives, and public awareness campaigns promoting solar power. Let’s explore solar energy in Massachusetts, to help you choose solar power for your home or business, understand community solar, and navigate the various incentives and rebates available in the state.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells are the core component of solar panels, which are installed on rooftops, solar farms, or ground-mounted arrays to capture sunlight and generate electricity. Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source that can help reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, may lower your energy bills, and decrease your carbon footprint.

Environmental Benefits of Solar Power in Massachusetts

Solar power is one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources available. Unlike fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change, solar power produces no harmful emissions while generating electricity. By choosing solar power for your home or business in Massachusetts, you're making a positive impact on the environment and supporting a cleaner, greener future.

Financial Advantages of Solar Energy

The financial benefits of solar power in Massachusetts can be substantial. By generating your own electricity with solar panels, you may significantly reduce or even eliminate your monthly electricity bill. In addition, the cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years prior to 2023, making it more affordable than ever to go solar.

Massachusetts offers various incentives and rebates to make solar power even more attractive for residents and businesses. The state's net metering program allows you to earn credits on your utility bill for any excess electricity your solar panels produce and send back to the grid. Moreover, the federal government offers a tax credit that can help offset the cost of solar installation.

By adopting solar power, Massachusetts residents and businesses can achieve greater energy independence and security. By generating your own electricity, you become less reliant on the grid and more resilient to power outages. Solar power also diversifies the state's energy mix, reducing the demand for fossil fuels and increasing the use of clean, renewable sources.

Understanding Solar Incentives and Rebates in Massachusetts

Financial incentives play a significant role in making solar energy more accessible and affordable for Massachusetts residents. Here are some of the key programs and incentives available:

1. Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): The ITC is a federal tax credit that allows homeowners and businesses to deduct a portion of their solar installation costs from their federal income taxes. As of 2023, the ITC stands at 30% of the system cost.

2. Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program: The SMART program is a state-level initiative that offers financial incentives for solar energy production. Under this program, residential, commercial, and industrial solar system owners receive a fixed rate for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy they produce over a 10-year period. The rate varies based on factors such as system size, location, and whether the system is paired with energy storage.

3. Net Metering Program: Net metering allows solar system owners to receive credits for excess solar energy they generate and feed back into the grid. These credits can be used to offset future electricity bills, effectively lowering the overall cost of solar energy. In Massachusetts, net metering is available for residential, commercial, and municipal solar installations, with certain restrictions based on system size and utility service territory.

4. Residential and commercial tax credits: In addition to the federal ITC, Massachusetts offers property tax exemptions and state income tax credits for homeowners and businesses that install solar energy systems. These incentives can further reduce the overall cost of solar installation, making it more affordable and accessible for a wider range of consumers.

5. Solar loan programs: Several solar loan programs are available in Massachusetts to help homeowners finance their solar installations. These programs offer low-interest loans with flexible repayment terms, making it easier for residents to invest in solar energy without a significant upfront cost.

Understanding Rooftop Solar: Everything You Need to Know

For those interested in installing solar panels on their property, it's essential to understand the process, costs, and variables involved. Here's a brief overview of what to expect when considering rooftop solar:

1. Finding providers: Start by researching local solar installation companies in Massachusetts. You can consult online reviews, ask for recommendations from friends or neighbors, or use online tools to compare quotes from multiple providers.

2. Cost: The cost of a solar installation varies depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the system, the type of panels used, and any additional equipment required. The average cost of a residential solar installation in Massachusetts ranges from $15,000 to $25,000 before incentives.

3. Timeline: The installation process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on factors such as permitting, equipment availability, and weather conditions.

4. Variables: Factors that can affect the performance and cost of a rooftop solar system include the size and orientation of your roof, the amount of sunlight your property receives, and local permitting requirements.

Sun rising over a community solar farm in Massachusetts

What is Community Solar?

Community solar is a relatively new concept that enables individuals and businesses to benefit from solar power without installing solar panels on their property. Participants can subscribe to a portion of a local solar project, often called a solar farm or solar garden, and receive credits on their utility bills for the electricity generated by their share of the solar array. This option is particularly beneficial for renters, those with unsuitable roofs for solar installation, or those who cannot afford the upfront cost of solar panels.

Benefits of Joining a Community Solar Project

There are several advantages to participating in a community solar project in Massachusetts:

1. Accessibility: Community solar allows more people to access the benefits of solar power, regardless of their property type or financial situation.

2. Affordability: There's typically no upfront cost to join a community solar project, making it more affordable than purchasing and installing solar panels on your property.

3. Flexibility: If you move or change your energy needs, you may be able to transfer or adjust your community solar subscription can often be transferred or adjusted to accommodate your new situation.

4. Local economic benefits: Community solar projects create local jobs and support the growth of the clean energy industry in Massachusetts.

Rooftop Solar vs Community Solar

When deciding between rooftop solar and community solar, it's essential to consider your specific needs and circumstances. Rooftop solar may be a better fit if you own your property, have a suitable roof for solar installation, and can afford the upfront cost of the system. It also allows for greater energy independence and the potential for higher long-term savings.

On the other hand, community solar may be a more suitable option if you rent your property, have an unsuitable roof for solar installation, or cannot afford the upfront cost of solar panels. Community solar offers some of the benefits of solar energy without the need for installation and maintenance, and it provides more flexibility for those who may move or change their energy needs.

What Are Some Alternatives to Community Solar?

If you’re looking for another easy way you can make a positive impact on the environment through clean energy, look no further than CleanChoice Energy. Our two products, Clean Electricity and Clean Energy Option, offer easy ways for homeowners and renters across the country to support clean energy. Since our founding in 2012, CleanChoice customers have had the collective impact equivalent to growing more than 105 million trees!

When you choose CleanChoice Energy as your electricity supplier with Clean Electricity, we'll ensure all the energy you use is replenished on the grid from wind and solar farms in your region. Your utility company stays the same. They will still maintain your lines and provide your bill. No service calls, equipment, or installation are needed—you'll simply see a line on your electric bill that says your “Supplier” is CleanChoice Energy. There are no upfront costs, sign up fees, or cancellation penalties, which makes choosing clean energy an easy and accessible option. Plus, it only takes two minutes to sign up!

With Clean Energy Option, a monthly membership adds 1,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy to the grid, offsetting the monthly electricity use of an average American home—for just $19/month. Each month, we'll secure one Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) on your behalf, certifying 1,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy were added to the power grid. You can sign up in minutes, and you can cancel any time with no cancellation fees.

Visit our website to explore what renewable energy options are available to you.

Stay in the know

Learn about clean energy, climate tips, special offers, and more