Gov.-elect Healey: Let’s bring one million solar roofs to Massachusetts

Every day, there’s a practically limitless source of clean energy shining down on our roofs. Gov.-elect Maura Healey should commit to install the equivalent of one million solar roofs by 2030.

Solar power

activists rallying for climate legislation in front of the Massachusetts State House
Liam Louis, Elle Vignette Photography | Used by permission

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Over the past decade, solar panels have become an increasingly common sight across Massachusetts. You’ve probably seen solar panels go up on your neighbors’ roofs or along the side of the Pike.

Solar energy just makes sense. It’s clean, healthy, and local. It has zero fuel costs, and it’s getting more and more affordable all the time. There’s no wonder solar is the most popular energy source: over 90% of Massachusetts residents agree we should get more of our power from the sun.

Solar projects delayed or canceled

Despite recent progress, too much of our energy still comes from dirty fossil fuels like oil and gas.

Part of the problem is that we’re making it too difficult to go solar. State leaders have placed arbitrary limits on a key solar incentive program, while utility companies are imposing excessive fees on solar projects and taking months to connect solar panels to the grid. The result: Thousands of solar projects delayed or even canceled.

It shouldn’t be so hard to do the right thing. Every day we fall short of our solar potential is another day we’re unnecessarily burning fossil fuels, harming our health, and changing our climate.

One million solar roofs for Massachusetts

By 2030, Massachusetts can install 10 gigawatts of solar capacity, the equivalent of one million solar roofs.

To achieve this goal, we need to remove arbitrary limits on incentives for families and businesses to go solar. And we need to streamline the process for installing solar panels by eliminating unnecessary delays and bureaucratic red tape.

One million solar roofs is an ambitious target, but we know it’s achievable. Between 2012 and 2021, solar energy generation in Massachusetts increased by more than 17 times. Today, we have nearly 4,000 megawatts of solar capacity installed. If we increase solar by just another 2.5 times by 2030, we’ll have enough solar panels to cover a million roofs.

Achieving this goal would be a big step toward a cleaner, healthier future — but it’s not even close to our full potential for solar. We could generate up to 47% of Massachusetts’ electricity from rooftop solar panels, and that doesn’t even take into account the potential for solar in other places, like over parking lots or on the sides of highways. By pairing solar with battery storage and with other types of renewables like offshore wind, we can put Massachusetts on track to run on 100% renewable energy at all times of the day and night.

Our track record

For more than a decade, Environment Massachusetts has fought for the policies that have made Massachusetts a national leader for solar.

Our Renewable Communities report has highlighted the cities and towns leading the way on solar and other clean energy technologies. We’ve held educational events about solar energy at venues ranging from a farm in Oakham to an elementary school in Yarmouth.

In 2016, we helped build a grassroots movement that generated thousands of calls to elected officials in support of expanding solar. And it worked. We passed a bill allowing for enough solar to power another 100,000 homes with clean energy.

We know the “million solar roofs” vision is a winning idea because it has already succeeded elsewhere. In 2006, our colleagues at Environment California won a commitment to install one million solar roofs in their state — a goal that has since been met more than three times over.

With your support, we can convince Massachusetts’ leaders to set their sights high on solar.

Our opportunity to go big on solar

In January, Maura Healey will become Massachusetts’ next governor. Now is the time to demonstrate broad grassroots support for solar energy, so we can make sure solar is at the top of the state’s energy agenda.

Imagine every home on your block powered with renewable energy from the sun. Imagine cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for all of us. That’s what we can achieve when we go big on solar.

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Authors

Ben Hellerstein

State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Ben directs Environment Massachusetts’ efforts to promote clean air, clean water, clean energy and open spaces in Massachusetts. In 2016, he launched a campaign to repower Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy. His areas of expertise lie in renewable energy and the impacts of fossil fuel pollution, and he has authored reports on clean energy policies at the local, state and federal levels, earning media coverage statewide. Ben lives in Brookline and enjoys exploring the region on foot, by bike and by public transit.

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