Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Massachusetts
With a number of renewable technology incentives in place for Massachusetts, the state is well placed for developing a strong green portfolio. Despite having just under 10% of their energy produced from renewables including hydro and biomass at the moment, the future looks bright. A third of that provision is provided by a combination of solar and wind, of which solar PV has seen some positive advances in recent years.
Massachusetts was one of the first states to implement a renewable energy portfolio standard with a challenging 25% of electricity production from green sources by 2020. While the development of wind energy has been slower than hoped for, solar PV has expanded pretty quickly. Their goal for solar electricity production of 250 MW was reached four years early and there is hope that a target of 1,600 MW can be reached by 2020.
Massachusetts has two major hydroelectric plants, Bear Swamp and Pepperell, but there are plans to increase this in the future. This will involve legislation that will allow utility companies to solicit long term contracts for hydropower. The state has a number of biomass power plants including Covanta Haverhill that has a capacity of 42.8 MW though recent changes to regulations have slowed down the large scale power production industry in recent times.
Solar PV Incentives in Massachusetts
Solar has been boosted by the state legislature raising net metering caps to align with their ambitious targets. Massachusetts has one of the biggest thriving solar industries in the US with 403 companies employing over 15,000 staff. It currently ranks 6th in the US for installed solar and the biggest single array is currently the Warren Solar Farm with a 14 MW capacity. Big business has also taken on the mantle of solar with Walmart and Staples installing panels on their buildings.
Massachusetts’ residents and businesses benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate and the Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemption run by the state. The Mass Solar Loan Program is available for residential and low income families to install solar panels up to $35,000.
Solar PV Case Study in Massachusetts
You have the option of purchasing your solar array outright or entering into a leasing agreement where the installation is carried out free but you hand over any rebates or incentives that are available. The cost of a 5 kW array in the state is around $18,750 which comes with the Federal Tax Rebate and tax incentives which dramatically reduce the cost. Add onto this the Solar Power Performance Payments and you will get a fairly quick turn around on any loan you take out. That means the overall profits that go with installing solar power in the state are larger than in many other regions of the US. You should expect to make a profit of around $40,000 over the 25-year lifetime of the array and that doesn’t take into account the value added onto your home.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Massachusetts
Many homes in Massachusetts use oil based heaters but there are incentives in place to help residents to switch to greener solar thermal. Residents and businesses benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate and for home owners and low income families there is also the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Program that can shave $200 to $500 off the cost of installation. For businesses there are loan programs such as the Commercial Solar Hot Water Financing Program.
Small Hydro Incentives in Massachusetts
There are plans afoot to boost hydroelectric production in the state though the focus is more on large scale energy production. Micro hydro is still a possibility with the Federal Tax Rebate but a lot depends on location and the effect of any installation on local rivers.
Geothermal Incentives in Massachusetts
The increase in popularity of ground source heat pumps has spread across the US in recent years and, for homes that can have the technology installed, there are a great savings to be made. Geothermal heat pumps have the benefit of the Federal Tax Rebate but also the Residential Ground-Source Heat Pump Program which provides incentives up to $12,500.
Biomass Incentives in Massachusetts
Biomass has stuttered in recent times in Massachusetts with challenges to the legislation and questions being asked about how carbon neutral installations are. There are however incentives in place for the installation of highly efficient wood chip burners and boilers including the Residential Central Wood Pellet Heating Program which is aimed at residential projects.
Wind Power Incentives in Massachusetts
Wind power has been slow to develop in the state though there is plenty of potential for the technology not only onshore but offshore too. Most of the installations so far have been single or one or two turbines in a particular area but the state has the Commonwealth Wind Program in place which provides low cost loans for small and community projects to develop the future of this green technology.
Particularly for solar, Massachusetts has a range of initiatives and incentives in place to help promote renewable energy initiatives both in the home and for businesses. With a stiff target of producing 20% of electricity by 2020 through green technology, much is going to depend on the number of homes and businesses that have installations such as solar PV, thermal and wind. The potential for strong return on investments over the long term with these technologies could well be a determining factor for the state.
You can find out about all the renewable technology incentives for Massachusetts on the DSIRE website.