New Report Ranks Massachusetts 8th in the Nation for Solar

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Environment Massachusetts

Boston – A new report by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center ranks Massachusetts 6th in total solar capacity and 8th in the nation for solar installed per capita through 2013. Massachusetts also ranked 4th in the nation for the amount of solar installed in 2013. The report, Lighting the Way: The Top 10 States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2013, 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 to help capture the virtually unlimited and pollution-free energy from the sun.

Massachusetts’ commitment to solar has helped fuel a tripling of solar energy nationwide between 2011 and 2013. Last year, solar capacity in Massachusetts more than doubled  bringing total capacity to 442 megawatts (MWs).

“Solar energy is emerging as a go-to energy option here in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director with Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Thanks to the commitment of Massachusetts leaders, this pollution-free energy option is poised to play a major role in helping us meet our energy needs and emission reduction targets.”

Solar in the United States increased more than 120-fold in the last 10 years.  In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all the new electric generation capacity installed in the United States.  The top ten solar states account for 89 percent of the solar installed in the U.S., while representing only 26 percent of the population and 20 percent of the electricity consumption. 

“Since taking office in 2007, Governor Patrick has made clean energy, including solar, a priority because it’s smart to invest in an energy source that not only reduces pollution, but creates local jobs and keeps energy dollars in our local economy,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “This report underscores the success we’ve seen across the Commonwealth.”

As the solar industry grows, the cost for installed solar decreases, making it more accessible. The price of installed solar systems fell 60 percent between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2013.  Jobs in the solar industry are also growing rapidly. In 2013, there were more than 140,000 solar jobs in the U.S., including 6,400 in Massachusetts. 

“The solar panels on The Greater Boston Food Bank’s roof make our 117,000 square foot distribution facility as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. This allows us to use more of our time and resources to acquire and distribute food to help the more than 545,000 people in eastern Massachusetts who are at risk of hunger,” said Carol Tienken, Chief Operating Officer, of The Greater Boston Food Bank

“Massachusetts is leading the way on solar, in part, because its policies provide everyone access to the benefits of this renewable energy technology,” said DeWitt Jones, President of BCC Solar, which owns the solar panels on the Greater Boston Food Bank’s roof.  “Equitable access to solar maximizes the potential to use the technology to help build healthier and more resilient communities and address the energy affordability challenges created by rising and volatile energy prices.”

Another major driver for solar energy is that it produces no pollution; including climate-altering carbon emissions. According the report, solar power produces 96 percent less global warming pollution than coal-fired power plants over its entire life-cycle and 91 percent less global warming pollution than natural gas-fired power plants.

“Recent progress here and in other leading solar provides a path for other states to follow,” said Sargent.  If we maintain momentum, we’ll reap the tremendous benefits of cleaner air and less carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels.”

Several strong policies adopted by Massachusetts and the rest of the top 10 solar states have helped encourage homeowners and businesses to “go solar”:

• 9 states have strong net metering policies, providing customers credit at the retail rate for the power they provide to the grid.

• 9 states have strong statewide interconnection policies. Good interconnection policies reduce the time and hassle required for individuals and companies to connect solar energy systems to the grid.

• All ten have renewable electricity standards that set minimum requirements for the share of a utility’s electricity that must come from renewable sources, and 8 of them have solar carve-outs that set specific targets for solar or other forms of clean, distributed electricity.

• 9 states allow for creative financing options such as third-party power purchase agreements, and 8 allow property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.

Massachusetts’ solar progress can also be attributed to:

• Governor Patrick’s commitment to keep solar growing by setting a bold goal of reaching 1600MWs of solar generation by 2020 through its solar carve-out program,

• Ongoing support for net metering and community solar,

• Creative programs like Solarize Massachusetts, which has led to more than 900 households and small businesses signing contracts for solar and increased the visibility of solar statewide.

“Governor Patrick and his energy agencies, in partnership with the Legislature, have made Massachusetts a national leader on solar because they recognize the environmental and economic benefits and have taken action to grow solar,” said Sargent. “As more people see the benefits of solar energy, we’re confident the clean, virtually limitless energy from the sun will be a growing part of Massachusetts’ plan to reduce pollution from power plants.”

Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. GBFB distributes 48 million pounds of food to as many as 545,000 people a year to 540 member hunger-relief agencies throughout eastern Massachusetts. For more information, visit, become a fan on Facebook, follow on Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank), or call 617.427.5200.

BCC Solar has worked since 2008 to help low-income communities gain access to the cost savings and price stability of solar power and participate in efforts to address climate change. Two thirds of BCC Solar’s projects serve affordable, multifamily housing developments and typically meet 100% of their common area electricity needs.  The remainder serves non-profit organizations and municipal facilities, such as the Greater Boston Food Bank. BCC Solar is an affiliate of Boston Community Capital, a nonprofit community development financial institution dedicated to building healthy communities where low-income people live and work.