Massachusetts is a bit like Germany. It’s far north, frequently cloudy and rainy and filled with solar panels. The state ranked fourth in the nation for installed solar in 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The reason for the state’s strong solar showing is its commitment to clean energy and the robust incentive packages it offers to home and business owners who install rooftop solar panels.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center draws revenue from all electricity ratepayers to finance grants and rebates for individuals and companies interested in installing renewable energy systems. The goal is to expand the role of renewable energy sources in meeting residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and municipal energy needs.
The program has ben a success. By the end of 2013, there was more than 237 megawatts of solar installed on 38,504 Massachusetts homes. On top of that, solar manufacturing and solar company headquarters are establishing their businesses in the solar-friendly state.
Local Rebate Program
Personal Tax Credit
Property Tax Incentive
Sales Tax Incentive
State Grant Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
|Program Type||Personal Tax Credit|
|Technologies||Solar water heat, solar space heat, photovoltaics, wind|
|Amount||15 percent of expenditure spent on wind or solar energy property- maximum of $1000|
|Required Documentation||Schedule EC: http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dor/Forms/IncTax08/addl.pdfs/sch_ec.pdf|
|Official Web Site||Income tax credit|
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers an incentive in the form of solar and wind “energy credits.” The credit can offset your personal income tax in the year that the system was financed. The amount that is credited is 15 percent of expenditure on your wind or solar equipment (including the cost of installation). However this credit is capped out at $1000. So even if 15 percent of your expenditure is greater than that, you will be rewarded no more than the maximum allowance of $1000 in energy credit.
If you owe less in income tax than you have in credit, the remaining credit will rollover for three consecutive years. Any unused credit after three years will be forfeited.
This credit is available to any owner or tenant of a residential property. In order to qualify to receive this incentive, the site where the renewable energy is produced and used must be the primary residence of the individual who is seeking this Income Tax Credit. The system must be new and in compliance with all applicable performance and safety standards and must be expected to remain in operation for at least five years.
|Program Type||Sales Tax Exemption|
|Technologies||Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Geothermal Heat Pumps|
|Amount||100 percent exemption—no maximum limit|
|Required Documentation||Form ST-12- Exempt Use Certificate (completed at time of purchase and provided to your professional installer)|
|Official Web Site||http://www.mass.gov/dor/individuals/taxpayer-help-and-resources/tax-guides/salesuse-tax-guide.html#exempt|
The state of Massachusetts offers 100 percent sales tax exemption on all equipment used directly in solar, wind-powered or heat pump systems. The equipment purchased must be used to provide heat or the energy needs of the applicant’s principal residence in the Commonwealth.
To apply for this tax exemption, you must fill out the form ST-12- Exempt Use Certificate. The form can be found online using any search engine. You should provide the filled-out form at the time you purchase the equipment either to the vendor of the equipment or to your professional installer.
|Program Type||Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics (solar energy)|
|Amount||Each SREC can be worth from $300-$600 per mega watt hour (mWh)|
|Required Documentation||Application (must be accepted before system can begin accumulating SRECs)|
|Official Web Site||http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/renewable-energy/solar/rps-solar-carve-out/current-status-of-the-rps-solar-carve-out-program.html|
The RPS Solar Carve-Out Program is one of the most innovative performance-based incentives in the country. While many renewable energy certificate (REC) programs are designed to stimulate interest and investment in solar energy early on, most of these programs have finite funds and offer dwindling returns.
The value of RECs tend to diminish as more solar photovoltaic (PV) systems spring up. On the other hand, in Massachusetts the RPS Solar Carve-Out Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are designed to hold their value as the supply of solar energy increases, drawing from consistent funds.
Each year, power suppliers in Massachusetts are required to source a greater percentage of their power from solar energy than the year before, and they accomplish this either by investing directly in utility-scale solar generation or by purchasing SRECs from solar energy system owners, residential and industrial alike. Massachusetts’ carve-out program was designed to promote distributed generation and rooftop solar installation.
The SREC system is scheduled to continue into 2015 and is expected to continue growing over the coming years.
|Technologies||Photovoltaics (solar energy)|
|Amount||Base incentive of $1 per watt plus added incentives based on household income and the value of your home, up to $10,500 for residential systems|
|Required Documentation||System installers are responsible for the application process, so be sure to find an experienced and reliable professional to help you through this often process|
|Official Web Site|
Funding for The Commonwealth Solar II Rebate Program comes from the Renewable Energy Trust, which is part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). The organization funds the rebate program quarterly to invest in corporate, residential, and non-profit photovoltaic systems. Each block of funding is available for three months or until the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first, and then the cycle begins again the following quarter.
This rebate applies only to new projects, and you can’t begin installation of your solar energy system until your application has been approved.
Unlike similar programs in other states, recipients of the rebate are also eligible to receive additional funding, such as Solar Renewable Energy Credits through the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Solar Carve-Out Program, as well as other state and federal incentives.