As Massachusetts closes in on reaching its goal of 400 megawatts of installed solar, Gov. Duval Patrick’s (D) Administration is ramping up efforts to speed the adoption of solar energy throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, beyond the goal. Currently the state could reach the target within 12 months, so it’s important to get a leg up on it before its too late.
On Feb. 22, the state’s Department of Energy Resources started gearing up to expand the solar carve-out minimum in the state with a new process to increase the carve-out. Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., applauded the announcement. “The administration’s and legislature’s vision in establishing the commonwealth as a national solar leader is what brought Borrego here in the first place, and what led us to make Lowell our national design center and operations headquarters,” said Hall. “We look forward to continuing to grow, create new jobs, and bring outside investment into Massachusetts’ energy infrastructure.”
“This process is an important step in the right direction,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president for state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Based on the capabilities of the growing Massachusetts solar industry and the commonwealth’s solar potential, we urge the Patrick Administration to move to triple or quadruple the target.” At this point, a target has not been set officially.
Although Massachusetts is ninth in the country in terms of installed solar (neighbor New Jersey is second), if it doesn’t expand its programs, the state could fall farther behind. Maryland, for instance, has a goal of installing 1.3 gigawatts of solar, trumping the 400 MWs Massachusetts currently has as its goal.
“By setting the bar higher for solar, Governor Patrick can help to build a robust, sustainable clean technology economy in Massachusetts for many years to come,” Hilt said. “We look forward to working with the governor, the legislature and other stakeholders to move this initiative forward.”
Growth in the industry has been large, according to SEIA. “Since the end of 2009, cumulative installed solar photovoltaic capacity in Massachusetts has increased from 16 MW to more than 200 MW. This growth rate is among the fastest in the nation,” it said. That’s translated into more than 4,500 jobs, which could be lost if the programs aren’t expanded.