Falmouth, Cape Cod, leading Massachusetts in Solar Development

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Falmouth, MA- Falmouth and Cape Cod are leading the way when it comes to solar power according to a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. Falmouth has 127 individual solar installations, behind only Boston, with 157, despite having around 5% of the population of the Bay State’s capitol city. 

Across the Cape and Islands region, cities and towns are ‘going solar’. Environment Massachusetts’ report, which breaks down data statewide and by region, clearly shows that the Cape and Islands are leading the way in the Massachusetts solar energy economy. The Environment Massachusetts report provides rankings statewide and within local regions. In the region, Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard leads in both capacity and installations per capita, while Barnstable leads for total solar energy capacity and Falmouth leads for total number of solar energy installations. Falmouth ranks 2nd in the state for total solar energy installations and 4th in the state for private solar energy capacity installations, while Barnstable ranks 3rd in the state for total solar energy installations. Falmouth and Barnstable are among the top five municipalities in the state with populations from 10,000 to 50,000 for installations per capita. Additionally, Truro is ranked 5th in the state for solar installations per capita.

“From the Cape to the Berkshires, solar power is becoming a mainstream technology throughout Massachusetts,” said Dan Budris, campaign director with Environment Massachusetts said while pointing to the new report; Massachusetts’ Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future. “As evidenced by Falmouth, solar power is booming in Massachusetts and with the right leadership we can continue to benefit from the cleaner air and local jobs that this industry inevitably brings.”

Researchers at Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center compiled Massachusetts Clean Energy Center data to rank Massachusetts’ 351 towns and cities on four measures of solar energy development including the number of solar PV installations, the solar PV capacity, the number of solar installations per 1,000 residents, and the solar capacity per capita.

The rapid expansion of Massachusetts’ solar market is bringing cleaner air and jobs to the Commonwealth. Every megawatt of solar power installed prevents the emission of nearly 700 pounds of smog-forming pollution per year and cuts more than 900 metric tons of global warming pollution per year as well. Massachusetts’ economy can benefit from further expansion of solar energy. A recent study conducted for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center found that there were more than 64,000 clean energy workers in the Commonwealth in 2011 – a 6 percent increase from the year before. A separate study estimated that there were 2,100 solar energy workers in the Commonwealth.

“Massachusetts has a long tradition of leadership in catalyzing the cultural, social and economic achievements of our nation. The progress seen across the Commonwealth in solar energy continues that tradition as clean energy choice – through net metering – allows communities the ability to realize the economic and environmental value of this proven energy resource” said Michael Stone of My Generation Energy.

“By producing more energy locally, closer to where it’s used, the Commonwealth is also creating jobs that can’t be outsourced. This growth in energy market competition aids in making solar more accessible and more common in nearly every neighborhood and village of our 351 cities and towns.” Continued Stone.

State lawmakers are currently considering legislation to expand Massachusetts’ most successful solar program, which allows owners of solar installations to sell excess power they generate back to utility companies at market rates. Since the implementation of the Massachusetts net-metering program, the number of solar installations in the state has increased close to 30-fold. Nearly as much solar generating capacity was installed in the first five months of 2012 as in the Commonwealth’s entire history through 2010.

While Massachusetts has made great progress in solar energy development, a cap on the state’s net metering program jeopardizes future growth because homeowners, businesses and municipalities will struggle to secure financing for solar projects if net metering is not expanded.

“There is no better way for our leaders to affirm their commitment to clean energy than by expanding and improving Massachusetts’ net-metering program,” said Wright.

To view the full report, visit Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. 

Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen supported environmental advocacy organization.