Putting solar panels on new homes could double Mass. solar capacity

Media Contacts
Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Boston – If builders start putting solar panels on all new homes, Massachusetts could double its solar energy capacity by 2045, according to a new report released today.

“Every day, a clean, renewable, limitless source of energy is shining down on the roofs of our homes and businesses” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Generating renewable energy from our rooftops helps homeowners and their communities reduce pollution and live healthier lives.”

In December, California became the first state to propose building all new homes with solar panels, a policy that will go into effect in 2020. The state energy commission estimates that a solar homes policy, coupled with energy efficiency improvements, will save homeowners $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over the course of a typical 30-year mortgage — double what they would add to the cost of a home.

Legislators are planning to file a bill to establish a similar policy in Massachusetts.

“Enacting these solar standards would represent an incredible leap forward in our transition away from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy,” said Representative Mike Connolly (Cambridge). “Combating climate change will require robust solutions and so I am excited to work with my House and Senate colleagues and Environment Massachusetts on taking this bold step forward for the planet.”

“I am honored to be working with Environment Massachusetts and Representative Mike Connolly on this important piece of legislation,” said Representative Jack Lewis (Framingham). “We must follow the bold initiative of California, and much closer to home, the Town of Watertown, in requiring solar panels on future construction in the Commonwealth. Such a policy will decrease carbon emissions, fight climate change, and save homeowners and businesses money in the process.”

Watertown recently became the first municipality in Massachusetts to adopt a solar roof requirement for some buildings. The policy will require rooftop solar panels to be installed on new commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet, as well as residential buildings with more than 10 units.

“Watertown’s solar energy ordinance is an important step toward powering our community with clean, renewable energy,” said Jocelyn Tager, a Watertown resident. “We have all of this space on our rooftops that would be ideal for solar energy generation. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of it?”

“The new National Climate Assessment makes it clear that we need to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible, and solar energy is key to that transition,” said Abi Bradford, policy analyst and report co-author with Frontier Group. “In just six years from 2020 to 2026, installing solar panels on all new homes could add more solar energy capacity than the entire country currently has installed to date.”

The report, Solar Homes,  also shows that adopting a requirement to put solar on new homes would reduce Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by 1.9 percent by 2045.

“We can have solar-powered communities right now and for years to come with smart policy choices,” said Hellerstein. “And the most efficient time to install solar panels is when workers are already on the roof.”

Click here to view Solar Homes: The Next Step for Clean Energy.