In 2008, Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, received quite the retrofit. The 96-year old landmark was bestowed with enough solar panels to heat 1/3 of its hot water need- an 18 ton annual reduction in CO2 emissions. And while Massachusetts may be loved for its history and illustrious past, it is also on the forefront of U.S. states in promoting cutting edge renewable energy technologies and solar power.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Requirements
Prior to 2007, Massachusetts did not have a strong legislative incentive in place to promote clean energy. In fact, Massachusetts had implemented renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”) that required only 1% of the all retail electricity supply to be from renewable energy sources by 2003, increasing to 4% by 2009. Luckily, the state RPS was revised in 2007 by the momentous Green Communities Act of 2007 which helped put Massachusetts on the map in terms of renewable energy adoption. The Act created separate classes of renewable energy technologies each with their own mandated production standard. All things related to solar energy was placed in the Class I renewable energy sources which required that 15% of all retail electricity sales by 2020 in the state be from renewable energy (principle among these being solar power), with an additional 1% each year thereafter. In order to fulfill the RPS mandates, Massachusetts enacted a strong solar rebate and tax incentive program to promote the adoption of solar power throughout the state. Massachusetts main solar rebate program, Commonwealth Solar – organized by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, has supported more than $65 million of solar energy investment since its inception. The Commonwealth Solar program was so popular that it quickly ran out of funds and was replaced with the Commonwealth Solar II program in 2010.
As a result of both of these programs, Massachusetts has dedicated over $160 million to support renewable energy and investments in solar energy and with federal funds, this amount increases to almost $330 million. And, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state-wide support of solar has really paid off with the number of installed commercial and residential solar energy systems growing dramatically. Massachusetts has seen year-over-year growth of grid connected PV installations of approximately 171% and as of the end of 2010, more than 2,600 systems were installed across the state providing more than 45 MW of solar power, which is enough to power almost 7,000 homes.
Now, Massachusetts is rated a top 10 state for its solar initiatives and rebates. And due to available solar incentives and increased competition in solar installation industry in Massachusetts, average installation prices have decreased 35% since 2007. With some systems priced at less than $4.50 per watt and solar renewable energy credits selling high, the payback period for most is between 5 and 7 years. It has simply never been a better time to look at solar power in Massachusetts than now.