Solar Power is accelerating in Massachusetts
Contact: Rob Sargent, 617-747-4317, [email protected]
BOSTON, MA –Massachusetts ranks 10th in the nation on solar installed per capita and 7th in total solar capacity through 2012, according to Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts. Last year, solar capacity in Massachusetts grew by 65%, bringing it to a total of 198 megawatts through the end of 2012. Massachusetts was profiled as one a dozen states that have led the nation in solar energy with supportive policies and a commitment to continued expansion. In May, the Commonwealth shot past its 2017 goal of 250 megawatts of solar more than three years early; putting it on track to rank even higher next year.
“Massachusetts has had remarkable success advancing solar power through policy and incentives that have helped businesses, homes, cities and towns, and institutions in 342 of 351 communities tap clean, renewable, local energy,” said Mark Sylvia, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. “We are gratified to be recognized for our progress and are moving strongly ahead toward Governor Patrick’s new goal of installing 1,600 MW by 2020. Our clean energy industry will continue to grow and bottom lines will continue to be impacted, as we protect the environment.”
“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Rob Sargent, of Environment Massachusetts. “Massachusetts’ progress should make us confident that we can do much more. If you want your state to be a leader in pollution-free solar energy, follow Massachusetts’ lead and set ambitious but achievable goals and back them up with policies that work.
Environment Massachusetts attributes the solar boom to the leadership of Massachusetts’ officials and those in other leading states profiled in the report. Earlier this year, the Governor announced a new goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar by 2020.
“Easthampton has been a leader in demonstrating this opportunity to other municipalities in Massachusetts and our model has and continues to be replicated across the Commonwealth,” said Easthampton Mayor Michael A. Tautznik. “Modern solar photovoltaic systems work extremely well, are cost effective under current economic conditions and reduce the need for new fossil fuel electricity generating plants”
“Solar energy is an important strategy that will help Boston residents and businesses reduce their energy costs while helping the City reach its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Boston Chief of Environment and Energy Brian Swett. “Last year’s Solarize Mass – Boston program was a great success thanks to the State’s leadership, and the City is now working on offering a similar group purchasing discount solar program once again to Boston residents.”
The report ranks states on per capita installed solar through 2012 and emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy for the development of the solar industry.
“Solar is taking off like a rocket ship in Massachusetts thanks to a strong commitment by Governor Patrick and the legislature and the smart, effective policies the administration has put in place,” said John DeVillars, Managing Partner of Blue Wave Capital, which is currently developing more than 40MW of solar projects in Massachusetts. “The Commonwealth is off to a super start and if we stay the course, citizens, businesses and local governments will see even more substantial cost savings and carbon reductions from solar energy.”
Other states profiled in the report include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont.
While these twelve states account for only 28 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 85 percent of the nation’s installed solar energy.
The report highlights the strong policies adopted by the top solar states that encouraged homeowners and businesses to “go solar.” Most notably:
• 11 of the 12 have strong net metering policies, which allow customers to offset their electricity bills with onsite solar, and receive reliable and fair compensation for the excess electricity they provide to the grid.
• 11 of the 12 states have renewable electricity standards, requiring utilities to provide a minimum amount of their power from renewable sources; and nine of them have solar carve outs, which set specific targets for solar or other forms of clean onsite power.
• 10 of the 12 have strong statewide interconnection policies. Interconnection policies reduce the time and hassle required for individuals and companies to connect solar energy systems to the grid.
• The majority of the states allow for creative financing options such as third-party power purchase agreements and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.
“Our home solar installation has been operational for just over six months and we haven’t had to pay a electric bill since,” said Easthampton resident Steven Judd. “We use our solar system to charge my electric Chevy Volt, replace our natural gas water heater with a tank-less electric hot water, and meet all other household demand with energy to spare. With the available tax credits/grants and new solar system financing available, we were able to own and install the system 6 months after purchasing our home and become energy independent for years to come.”
“The Earth is warming but solar prices are falling. For Massachusetts, investing in solar makes perfect sense,” said Larry Chretien, Executive Director of Mass Energy Consumers Alliance.
“More and more, homes and businesses are turning to solar as a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs,” said Sargent. “With the increasing threat of global warming, we must maintain momentum. By working together we can be on track to get at least 10 percent of our energy from the sun by 2030.”