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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels in Massachusetts

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Massachusetts home. Since there's a lot to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

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** What's new for 2020 **

Massachusetts remains a top place to go solar. Its SMART solar incentive is still strong despite having stepped down significantly in 2019. Homeowners can still expect payback in 6 years, and a rate of return which significantly outpaces other investments relative to the low level of risk associated with the sun rising every morning. The sheer quality of solar incentive programs, tax credits, exemptions, and loans earns the state a Solar Legislator Score of 'A+'. Bear in mind, we have even more localized solar information in the Boston metro area; check out our local solar resources.

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the super Massachusetts solar incentives you see below.

What you'll find on this page:

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Massachusetts, so you can decide which is best for you. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we provide detailed analysis of how each works.

The Policy Information section contains all our latest research on the rules set by lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission, which determine how easy it is to go solar in Massachusetts. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to interconnection, and have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions for going solar in Massachusetts.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Generate an accurate online solar estimate for your home

Your Solar Strategy in Massachusetts

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Massachusetts can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

How should you pay for solar?

Use our decision tool to find out!

How to pay for solar panels in Massachusetts

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or lease. As you can see, Massachusetts has the potential for extremely high returns. The purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a loan (the orange bars) and paying for the system over time means you'll never actually put down any of your own money.

That's what makes the solar loan option better. If you take a HELOC, you'll pay the system cost down monthly, but you still get a huge tax credit after the first year, and benefits from the Massachusetts SMART solar program for the first 10 years, too. Your payments over 15 years will actually be less than the savings and income your system will generate, and it'll mean that you're never putting any of your own money into the purchase. All you need is great credit—or the equity for a HELOC.

The option with the smallest savings is for a solar lease or PPA, which means you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and pay monthly while you accumulate electricity bill savings over time. Leases and PPAs are an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and they still save you thousands.

Read more below about each of three very good options for solar in Massachusetts!

How much can solar panels on roof save you?

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true. You'll see a net return of almost $45,000 in 25 years if you pay up front. But it requires a significant up-front investment.

If you have equity in your home or good credit, you can get a solar loan or HELOC with an interest rate of 4% or less. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof. Read about loans above.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $21,000. But by the end of year 1, incentives and energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced about $45,000 in income. The reason this works is that electricity in Massachusetts is EXPENSIVE. Solar offsets enough of it to save you about $1,700 in year 1, and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

The best thing about solar in Massachusetts might be the state's SMART Solar Program, which can make solar homeowners thousands of dollars over their systems' lifetimes. You get paid a little extra for every kilowatt-hour your system produces, whether it's used to power your home or sent back to the utility company. A tyical 6.2-kW system in Massachusetts will earn its owner about $800 for each fo the first 10 years it's making power.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out when you pay up front for a 6.2-kW rooftop solar system:

  • Installing a typical 6.2-kW solar system should start at about $21,080. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • The Feds calculate their incentive based on actual out of pocket costs, so take 26% of $21,080, for a tax credit of $5,481. And Massachusetts will throw another $1,000 tax credit on top! Your total investment is now down to just $14,599.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $1,724. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $12,875.
  • That isn't the end of the savings train! The Massachusetts SMART Solar Program will earn you $806 this year, bringing the final year 1 cost to just $12,069. That's 43% off the starting price!
  • Your system will pay for itself in just 6 years, and over its 25-year life, you'll see a total net profit of $44,744. The internal rate of return for this investment is a stupendous 20.6%!
  • And don't forget... your home's value just increased by more than $15,000, too (your expected cost after the tax credit)!
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 127 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Massachusetts. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 2: Using a loan to pay for solar

You don't need $21,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in Massachusetts, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you state AND federal tax breaks. Your tax savings will be huge in the first year—more than enough to offset the small difference between the loan payments and electric bill savings. All this means you'll never have to spend a cent on solar, and you'll still come out way ahead over 25 years.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $21,000, with a fixed rate of 4% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
  • You love making money without much risk.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Massachusetts solar purchase with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 6.2-kW solar system should start at about $21,000. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $1,724, but your annual loan payments will be $1,935, meaning you would spend $211 on solar this year, but...
  • You'll also see a huge tax break. The Feds give you 26% of the cost of your system back as a tax credit, which in this case is $5,481, and Massachusetts adds on another $1,000. You'll be paying over time but getting all the benefits up front!
  • The final bit of savings comes from the Massachusetts SMART solar program. They pay you a little extra for every kilowatt-hour of juice your panels make in the year. We estimate the first year incentive payment from the SMART program is $800 for the average 6.2-kW system. All these incentives mean you'll come out $7,076 ahead after year 1.
  • The electricity savings and SMART program incetive will always be more than the cost of your loan. You won't ever spend a penny on solar, and you'll come out $36,797 ahead after 25 years. Home solar in Massachusetts is an incredible opportunity.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too. 127 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Massachusetts. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 3: Buying the electricity, not the panels with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

Massachusetts residents have long enjoyed the ability to get solar from a third-party company and pay monthly, and a Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) is still a great way to go, especially if you haven't got piles of cash or equity in your home. The state legislature and public utilities commission are really into solar, so there isn't much reason to worry that utility companies will start trying to impose monthly fees on solar homeowners like they have in other states.

For now, a 6.2-kW solar system can save you about $63 per month with a PPA, which might not sound like a lot, but add that up over 25 years and consider how much electric companies raise rates on that electricity you won't be paying for, and you have a end up with a small mountain of cash with very little risk or work. You can put $0 down and start saving right away, while the installation company takes care of all the maintenance and repairs.

By the time the end of your PPA rolls around, you'll have an extra $23,256 in your pocket. Must be nice to have such big pockets!

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Massachusetts. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Calculate solar panel cost and savings for your specific home

Massachusetts Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Massachusetts:

Massachusetts's Renewable Portfolio Standard

50% by 2045

Grade: B

Massachusetts's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

The current Massachusetts RPS is two-tiered, establishing standards for Class I (new resources) and Class II (existing resources) electricity production. The Class I standards are aimed at producing new (post-1997) renewable energy sources, including residential solar installations, and requires that 50% of all the power generated in the state needs to come from these renewable sources by 2045. Additionally, Massachusetts legislators have also mandated a 1% increase in Class I production each year thereafter -- with no expiration date!

Effectively that means the state mandates 100% renewable energy by 2095. That's a bit laughable, considering the ever-increasing pace of solar adoption around the country, and, oh yeah, how Cape Cod will probably be under water by that time if we don't reduce emissions MUCH sooner, but hey, a bunch of other states don't even have Renewable Portfolio Standards, so good on ya, Bay State legislators!

One other thing the new RPS law did for Massachusetts residents is overturn a planned additional "demand charge" that Eversource wanted to levy on home solar owners. Essentially, the utility company wanted to charge home solar owners more just to use the same grid everyone else does, but the legislature said "not on our watch," and overturned the charge.

From a state we rate so highly for other aspects of its solar friendliness, we were a little disappointed to see such a low bar set for its renewable energy goals at such a late date in the future relative to what other progressive state legislatures were able to accomplish (see California, Colorado, and Maine for example). The +1% annual additional requirement is a nice touch to ensure compliance is occurring regularly, though we feel there’s a higher level to aspire to here.

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Massachusetts's Solar carve-out and SRECs

3200 MW

Grade: A

Massachusetts's Solar Carve-out grade

Massachusetts has devised an ingenious progressive solar incentive system which favors low-income, small scale, and community solar energy projects. It’s called the SMART program. At the program’s core is a formula which includes a base compensation rate which decreases as your system gets larger.

For every kwh of solar energy you produce with your solar panel system as long as it’s 25kw or less (that’s about an 80 panel installation, way more than enough electricity for a very large household’s needs), you get paid 230% multiple of the base compensation rate. Special compensation rate adders are available for community shared solar projects, low-income properties, and/or both!

More details on the Massachusetts SMART Solar Program

The SMART Program requires the 3 main Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs)—Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil—to make incentive payments directly to homeowners who install solar systems within their territory. The incentive is calculated based on a "block" system, where each block represents about 200 MW of solar energy generation capacity. Each time a block is filled (i.e. 200 MW of solar are installed), the incentive amount decreases slightly. So people who install systems in the earlier blocks get higher incentive payments than those who wait to install later.

At the current level (early 2020), people who install solar on their homes are eligible for a net incentive payment of about $.102/kWh for 10 years. Considering the average Massachusetts home solar system generates around 7,900 kWh per year, that's over $800 in incentive payments per year.

Take a look at the current incentive levels for the Massachusetts SMART program. There’s also a handy Excel sheet outlining the program levels here


If you're ready to move forward with getting solar for your Massachusetts home, get multiple solar quotes today and compare offers to find out which is right for you.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Massachusetts Electricity Prices


Grade: A

Massachusetts's Electricity cost grade

We've got good news and bad news... The bad new is Bay Staters pay a ton more than the national average for electricity, and those rates are rising. The good news is, the more electric prices go up, the more you save with solar!

Massachusetts’s average electricity price is 19 cents/kWh, which is about 15 PERCENT higher than it was just 5 years ago in 2014. Those rising costs give you an important reason to look for effective energy alternatives. Fortunately, solar power has received a good bit of legislative attention (and incentives), and Massachusetts’ leadership is continuing to focus on crafting strong solar policy.

Higher electricity prices means greater opportunity to save money by producing your own clean, earth-friendly solar power. Not to mention the fact that the rising environmental costs and dwindling supply of fossil fuels is going to lead to even faster increases in energy prices, likely sooner rather than later. While energy prices keep going up and up (and up), you’ll be saving more (and more) money for making the switch to solar now. Just remember to thank us later.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Massachusetts Net Metering


Grade: A

Massachusetts's Net Metering grade

Thankfully, unlike other states, Massachusetts has recently reafirmed its commitment to net metering for residential systems, so you can rest easier knowing the state has your back. For Massachusetts residents under Class I residential net metering rules for solar, any extra energy your panels produce is credited to your bill and carried over indefinitely.

When you get a quote from an installer, ask them to explain your local net metering program. This will factor into your payback time.

Learn more about net metering

Massachusetts Interconnection Rules


Grade: A

Massachusetts's Interconnection Standards grade

Recently, Massachusetts alleviated the headache of fragmented interconnection guidelines and required utility companies to comply with a standard agreement. The details of interconnection vary by utility -- for more information on your utility’s standards and to apply, check out the Massachusetts interconnection page.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Massachusetts Solar Incentives

Next to high electricity prices and net metering, solar incentives have traditionally been the most important factor for whether home solar power makes financial sense in a state. In the past, some states with otherwise lousy policy had tremendous incentives that drove down the up-front cost of going solar so much that homeowners could save oodles of money even without net metering or a good RPS.

These days, the big incentive most people can get is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that earns you 26% of your total system costs back after just 1 year. State incentives play less of a role than in the past, but some really good ones are still out there, ready to help homeowners go solar and save money before you know it.

Let's see how Massachusetts measures up:

The availability of state solar incentives for residential solar systems was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, utility company websites, and the state public utility commission.

Massachusetts Solar Power Rebates

Varies by locale

Grade: C

Massachusetts's Solar Rebates grade

Massachusetts used to have a nice, simple statewide rebate program called "The Commonwealth Solar II Rebate Program". Sadly, the program has now closed, because it was so effective that funding ran out. Luckily, some local municipal utilities have stepped in to take the place. Unfortunately, these small companies serve only a fraction of the state's population.

Still, check out this list and see if you're one of the lucky few who still get a rebate in MA:

Utility NameAmountNotes
Chicopee Electric Light$.50/watt, up to $2,500Must meet additional requirements
Concord Municipal Light Plant$.625/watt, up to $3,125Must meet warranty requirements
Hudson Light & Power$1 or $1.25/watt, up to $6,000Rebate amount subject to panel orientation. Orientation between 220° and 300° (west, basically) qualify for $1.25/W. Must meet UL standards and warranty requirements
Ipswich Municipal Light Department$.80/watt, up to $4,250Additional incentive for USA-built components, subject to other requirements.
Reading Municipal Light Department$1.00/watt, up to $2,000Additional incentive available for locally-manufactured equipment
Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant$1.50/watt, up to $4,500Subject to residency requirements and other factors.

If you’re confused, fear not. There are still plenty of ways to save with solar in Massachusetts. If you want to skip all the complex information about the potential savings of solar and get an accurate idea of what you can expect for your home, fill out our contact form for personalized assistance from local experts.

Learn more about solar rebates

Massachusetts Solar Tax Credits

15% up to $1,000

Grade: C

Massachusetts's Solar Tax Credits grade

Massachusetts has had a state tax credit for renewable energy longer than most of the Solar Power Rocks staff have been alive. The state offers a 15% tax credit off the net costs of your solar system, but only up to a maximum of $1,000 (net costs, meaning cost minus the federal 30% tax credit).

Basically, for most systems, count on $1,000 off next year's state income tax bill, on top of the big savings from the Feds.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Property Tax Exemption

100% for 20 years

Grade: A

Massachusetts's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

This means when the Massachusetts property tax man or woman cometh to assess your new solar home, they can’t assess you another dime for 20 years -- despite the fact that you’ll be adding roughly 20 times your annual electricity bill savings to your property value. In the case of our 5kW example, that adds up to about $19,890 (20 times your annual electricity savings of $995).

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Massachusetts's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

In addition to the property tax exemption, you don’t pay sales tax on your system either, so the installed price is the installed price.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

Low-income Solar Programs

Solar Loan and SMA

Grade: A

Massachusetts's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade Learn more about low-income solar programs available in the U.S.

The consensus on Massachusetts solar power rebates and incentives

Massachusetts legislators have done an outstanding job of providing their state with solar incentives. Bay Staters have access to state rebates, tax credits, property and sales tax exemptions, and ongoing performance payments — due in large part to a strong RPS and solar carve out. In addition, they have set an amazing example of meeting their established solar goals and upping them. For that, we give Massachusetts an “A+.” Keep up the good work!

Again, if you are confused about how these numbers work and would like some personalized assistance or a quote of your own, simply connect with our network of solar experts. They’ll help sort out all the pricing, get you access to special deals, and they’re super friendly to boot!

40 thoughts on “2020 Massachusetts Solar Incentives, Solar Panel Cost, Savings, and More

  1. Avatar for Connor Connor says:

    Update the SMART section. Their net payments aren’t what you’re telling them. Since the beginning of SMART, its declined several blocks. Pay more attention to the information thats on here. SMH

  2. Avatar for Sinbad Sinbad says:

    I am adding in a 2nd solar system with more panels. Can I take the fed and state tax credit again?

  3. Avatar for Connor Connor says:

    Sebastian, the MA SREC II program was given an emergency extension and will be taking applicaitons all the way until the end of the year. Soooooo, the incentive to install and purchase your own panels is still very much there.

  4. Avatar for sebastian sebastian says:

    I am under the impression that the SREC program in MA is closed to any new applications. As a result the real incentive to install solar in MA has gone. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  5. Avatar for Gary Gary says:

    The last comment posted to this web site is nearly 3 years old?!! What’s up with that? Does anyone here really know what they are talking about?

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      Hi Gary,

      Comments here go from new to old, so the one just below us is the most recent, from November 2015. As for your question, a few of us know what we’re talking about. If you’ve got any others, send ’em my way.


  6. Avatar for JIm JIm says:

    Is SERC income taxable?

  7. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Does Massachusetts have a 3ft rule like California? Where you can’t install within 3 ft of the edge of the roof?

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      I’ve scoured the legislative record in MA, and I can’t find anything about the 3-ft. rule. I think CA might be the only ones who do that.

  8. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Make sure you check with your elnergy provider regarding Time of Use pricing. In most cases, the charge for using electricity is more during the day, when most people are at work, but your PV sstem is generating electricity. This means you will be paid more (per kWh) for what you generate as compared to what you use in the evening.

  9. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Do rebates apply to rental property ?

  10. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    National Grid has recently added a “Guardian Meter Socket Recorder” to my “Net meter” (it inserts between the meter and the socket). This device records and transmits data about power quality and it lists for about $3000. This unit gathers and transmits data on power quality (“and monitor power factor, demand, phase angle, and harmonics to the 51st”). I was not home when it was installed, but the installer told my son that it was requested; it was not requested by me. I’m not trying to be paranoid, but the only reason I can see for the installation of this device is to gather data that will be used to penalize residential solar generators. I haven’t seen any discussions of this device anywhere online and am just wondering if these are being installed on all solar residential meters. Definitely seems menacing and at this cost I can’t imagine that they are going on every house….

  11. Avatar for Online Trading Workshop Online Trading Workshop says:

    I’ll immediately grasp your rss feed as I can not in finding your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit me know so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  12. Avatar for Frank the Gypsy Frank the Gypsy says:

    As a Gypsy, I am offended by your remarks.

  13. Avatar for Myrrtha Dupoux Myrrtha Dupoux says:

    I am recently graduated at Northeastern University in Electrical Engineering and I am pursuing my education in Sustainable Energy/Solar Energy at Roxbury Community College in which I am dreaming to build my career.
    I am interested working for you at no cost (Free) for the time being; until I reach adequate knowledge.
    Please send me a job application.


  14. Avatar for SuperGenius SuperGenius says:

    Paul & Alan: Try contacting an SREC aggregator like SRECtrade.

    To the naysayers above, my 5kW system is almost 5 months old, and I’ll sell my first two SRECs in July for about $500 each. From then on, I’ll average six+ per year, for a simple payback of about 30 months (!!!). Zero maintenance required, no chance of water or antifreeze leaks, no wasted energy on hot days, etc. Easily my best investment ever.

  15. Avatar for Alan Alan says:

    I have a 5 kw system pv installed on my house in Barnstable County. Up until now I’ve been getting payment for my green energy credits, but as of now I’ve been shut off by Mass Energy Consumer Alliance. I’d like to establish a relationship with another buyer but don’t know how to go about that. Any assistance or pointers would be appreciated.

  16. Avatar for paul paul says:

    I have a system and was selling my credits under a 3 year contract. the contract is over and i still want to sell the credits. I was told my system is old and I can not sell the credits. Is this true or if I can sell them, who do I sell them to and how much can I get.

  17. Avatar for Marc Marc says:

    I installed a 7kw system over 2 years ago and got my 30% rebate from the State/Fed program. I was told that because I got the rebate I was not eligible for the SREC program. I know I make more than I use but am unsure on how to capitalize on this. Can you help?

    Thank you!

  18. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Hi Steve,

    To qualify for the rebates and incentives, you are precluded from going about it on your own – even if you’re a master electrician. That’s because Boston mandates certain standards need to be met to receive state money.

    The only way they can be sure of those standards is by using licensed, certified installers who are ensuring everything goes without a hitch.

  19. Avatar for Steve Steve says:

    What about rebates for people who install the systems themselves / with the help of an electrician and not with some kind of solar company? I am thinking of doing a 2Kw system within the next month. I have about 220 sf of southern facing roof. Any help at all would be great.

  20. Avatar for m mcfly m mcfly says:

    Solar Thermal systems can be financed at 0% through a loan sponsored by the local electric utility, NGRID, NSTAR Cape Light. The term is up to 7 years and you can borrow up to $15,000. With all the other incentives and if your house has the orientation, this is a no brainer.

  21. Avatar for Esteban Cruz Esteban Cruz says:

    I am looking to run a ice cream dipping freezer on solar power. Any ideas?

  22. Avatar for Tom Harrison Tom Harrison says:

    Hi — not sure if this is in the domain of the data you’re collecting, but Massachusetts residents who heat with gas from National Grid can get a 75% rebate on insulation and weather sealing, up to $2000. I did, and got a check for about $1,500.

    I wrote about the details here on my blog:

    (And despite the implication of the URL, the program has been extended)

  23. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    My house was built in 1983. I thought I was ahead of the curve when my wife and I installed a solar panels to provide hot water to our home. We have a passive solar contemporary design in Acton. The system worked great for several years but for the past 5 years or so, we have been unable to find anyone in the area that can do maintenance on this system. Most local plumbers that advertise “solar” were lying. Does anyone know of anyone that can service a solar hot water system in the Acton area?

  24. Avatar for JR JR says:

    A Head Scratcher!

    The Massachusetts rebate stipulates that its rebate money is to be treated as taxable income, and they reserve the right to issue a 1099 to the owner.

    Then, would reducing the cost basis of the system for the Federal ITC be double taxation? You would be failing to advantage the taxed income against the ITC.

  25. Avatar for Anon. Anon. says:

    The state energy policy needs some rethinking. The ISO regional markets pay capacity payments for demand reduction and energy efficiency – e.g. to aggregators that sign-up big box retailers to dim lights on peak days (active) or municipal lighting projects (passive). These capacity payments in the wholesale markets to reduce energy usage are substantial money and are paid year round to “shave the peak” usage (yes, we all pay for them as part of the energy component of the retail power bill – in other words, it’s an indirect energy reduction tax that is not well targeted – some who receive payments may never even reduce consumption, e.g. if there is no call to dim lights or reduce AC use). A direct use of tax dollars makes much more sense for MA to establish a substantial fund – say $500 million (the cost of a medium size transmission line project to serve load growth) for direct allocation to homeowners for solar and back yard wind systems that would not only reduce consumption on a per-site basis but also serve as distributed generation to feed power onto the grid at times when the homes are using little power, like during the work day. This seems like money much better spent and a much more sound energy policy.

  26. Avatar for jim jim says:

    federal: type tax credits in search box
    Mass State:

  27. Avatar for mark mark says:

    Sean: Got to database of energy incentives at Click on your state for info on rebates (most are limited to solar PV/electric or modest utility co cashbacks for new boilers, water heaters, etc.). Most incentives are tax credits (you get the money when you file your income taxes) under current programs. I am an energy conservation/renewables installer and find there’s a lot of confusion. How that helps. Any questions email me at [email protected]

  28. Avatar for Mauro Mauro says:


    I’m a developer from Los Angeles, CA specializing in sustainable design through solar energy. If anyone is in search of solar panels or solar water heaters feel free to contact me @ [email protected]

    Go Green

  29. Avatar for kevin kevin says:

    I own a small company in MA. We were just awarded a contract to clean, repair and test components that are reused in the production of solar panels. In order to support this new contract we built a dedicated space with all new dedicated equipment. Could this dedicated expansion qualify for any tax credits under Alternative Energy Production? Manufacturesbe benefit My companysupport that we just expanded

  30. Avatar for Kartik Chandrasekhar Kartik Chandrasekhar says:

    The right way to do this is to do in in two steps. In the first tax year plan for Solar Thermal water heating. It is correct that this is the most efficient from a energy conversion efficiency as well as return on investment. The next year plan for the PV installation which does give you a good return over a period of time. Of course your pocketbook and roof area will dictate whether you want to go to phase 2 but that is the order you should follow. Spacing it over two years is only to maximize the tax benefit otherwise it can be done the same year.

  31. Avatar for mark mark says:

    As the saying goes, the women are smarter…as least as far as the benefits of solar thermal vs. PV are concerned. Cheryl, Michelle and Dianne rightly question the “PV savings myth” and point out that solar thermal is a better investment than PV through their practical financial reasoning. I’d let them manage my money any day!
    As someone working in the solar industry, I find that even w/ the rebates, credits, etc, the payback is too long w/ PV. By contrast, with solar thermal, a typical Northeast family that uses an oil-fired indirect or tankless heater on their oil boiler (there are lots of these) will save at least one tank of oil (approx 225 gal) a summer to heat hot water ($495 at $2.20/gal) and 20% of the winter heating average of 600 gallons (120 gal) for total savings of $759 first year. The thermal system will also keep a lot of CO, sulfur dioxide and other nasty stuff out of the environment during our best solar seasons from April-November when you can turn your boiler OFF.
    In Massachusetts, taking the roughly $10K cost of that system and deducting 3K in tax credits (state & fed) leaves $7K net investment. Dividing that by the low end savings per year of $759 in fuel saved (it’s more if fuel prices spike again) your breakeven is 9.2 years or less if fuel goes to $4/gal as it did last winter).
    For the record Kirk and Phil, the PV credits, rebates, and other MA state incentives are supported by the lobbyists of investor-owned utilities who are trying to offset load w/ residential PV to make up for the 50% transmission loses in a worn out 50+ year old grid system they won’t re-invest in ’cause it will hurt their shareholder dividends. Much of the MA. rebate money comes from a taxpayer-funded pool, while the rest comes from surcharges on our electric bills. We’re all paying for a few PV systems and it’s wrong. When will people (and Gov. Patrick of MA.) wake up and figure out that using taxpayer money to subsidize offsets for public corporations is basically a Bush-era gimme to National Grid, Dominion and all the rest? They’re not our friends..screw them!

  32. Avatar for Diane Diane says:

    If you are using solar hot water equipment, you get gypped under the new incentives. Most of the incentives are skewed towards photovoltaics, some to wind. Try to get a turbine installed at YOUR house…permits, height restrictions, etc. are a nightmare. The SRCC said that Solar hot water is 6 times more efficient than PV. You’ll never get a 3500W PV system on a normal sized house. But I get all my hot water on my small roof. My SHW system ROCKS, -I have made 1.4 MW equiv since October, and actually have the furnace turned off. (Wood stove). The propane truck has come twice, and not had to leave any propane yet. Unfortunately, since I am not a business or corp, I can only qualify for the State $1000 and the Fed $2000; (nothing else local); I did it with my home equity line. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and commit yourself to investing in your own energy independence. You can easily spend $20,000 on a new car…will that save you money? What’s the payback on that? (ans: there isn’t one..) This is the chance to purchase equipment that will work for YOU, on YOUR home, decreasing the amount of YOUR hard-earned money that goes somewhere else and into someone else’s pocket. It’s the chance to not burn fossil fuel, to not be at the mercy of this years speculators, and maybe to reduce my so-called carbon footprint. The only other thing I wish for is a full 30% credit on my $19,000. solar hot water investment. PV needs those incentives because the numbers just don’t run.. they are just not realistic yet, but don’t penalize us water geeks!

  33. Avatar for Michelle Michelle says:

    Kirk and Phil,
    Phil, I find some of your numbers somewhat misleading, though I was happy to hear of the Jan 09 new federal credit that is coming up. I have to take issue with the assumption that many people with an annual income of 72K would be looking to put up solar panels, if only b/c they might have to fork over the initial 30K only to get some (or most) of it back LATER. 30K would be more than half of their take-home pay…And also, if you are taking medial home prices, at least HALF of the homes in MA wouldn’t fall under those guidelines, if I understand the concept.
    I wonder if the biggest residential consumers are those who want to act responsibly toward the environment but would have enough disposable income to be able to comfortably afford the initial outlay, even if they do get some of it back in the form of tax credits and rebates.
    Glad to know that the towns are not allowed to raise property taxes based on this, but wonder if they and all their local appraisers know this.

  34. Avatar for Phil Phil says:

    The numbers above in the example don’t tell all the story. First, if the size of the system is 3500 watts, the base rebate available from the state is close to $7000. But there is more money available to most mass residents. If the household annual income is less than $72,000, there is another $7000 for you, Next, if you home value is less than the medial value for your county, there is another $3500 available and if you use some components in the system that are from Massachussetts companies, there is still another $875 for you.
    This is a total of $18,375 from the state rebate system (commonwealth solar)
    Next there is a change in the Federal tax credit starting in Jan 2009 instead of $2000, YOU GET 30% OF INSTALLED COST MEANING another $10,000 from the Feds.
    This comes to a total of about $28,375 in total rebates meaning the cost to you, the homeowner is only $3125. But it still gets better. The towns are NOT ALLOWED to tax you on solar generating technologies that are installed on your residence, so your property taxes do not increase but the resale value of your home does increase. You do the math now. Spend $3125……get back 20,000 minimum over the next 25 years….hmmmmmmm

    Dont forget these panels have an expected lifespan of over 50 years. How much will your electric bill be then?

  35. Avatar for Kirk Kirk says:

    Cheryl — There is a MA 20-year property tax exemption for the system. Plus the federal rebate has the $2000 limit lifted starting 1/1/09, so you’ll get a full 30% rebate of your cost for systems installed after 1/1/09. So, your cost drops about $5000 more.

  36. Avatar for Cheryl Cheryl says:

    Soooo Let me get this straight… I spend $23,000 up front to save $20,000 over the next 25 years??? Sooo, I’m still out $3,000 over time, but out $23,000 now. Where’s the sense in this??? Worse yet…. now my property value has gone up approximately $10,000 so my taxes are higher….. Not really seeing the benefit as a MASS resident. Now, CT has a much better program. I suggest our Governor, who claims to be about solar energy, have a chat with the CT Governor, who is really all about solar energy.

    1. Avatar for Frank Frank says:

      It’s almost like you didn’t read above. Remember, solar electricity is replacing a big chunk of your electric bill every year. Once your done paying it off, IT CONTINUES TO WORK FOR YEARS. SREC credits will give you $20,000! JUST SRECS alone are paying for nearly the entire system, and then there are the other rebates. You really should look at your financing payment and compare and you’ll see that you’ll profit. In the above example it’s well over $40,000 PROFIT over ten years. But, the following 10 years maybe greater, because that $75 worth of electricity this system is recovering may be as high as $200 by then, effectively free to you.

    2. Avatar for Sean Sean says:

      you got almost nothing straight in your post.

      reading is FUNdamental

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