Beginning in August 2011, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) will provide grants* for feasibility studies of commercial solar hot water systems through the Commercial Solar Hot Water Program. This program is open to residential buildings with five or more units, as well as commercial, industrial, institutional, and public facilities that will require nine or more collectors. Smaller projects should apply under the Residential and Small-Scale Solar Hot Water Program.
Commercial Solar Hot Water rebates are available to electricity customers served by the following Massachusetts investor-owned electric utilities: Unitil, National Grid, and Eversource. In addition, customers of certain municipal lighting plant (MLP) utilities are eligible. Only entities that live in territories that contribute to the MassCEC Renewable Energy Trust Fund are eligible for a grant.
Feasibility Study Rebates
Existing buildings, as well as new construction projects, offsetting electricity, oil, propane, or steam with solar hot water systems are eligible for feasibility study rebates. Only project sites with government, non-profit, agricultural, and affordable housing uses are eligible for feasibility study rebates. Up to $5,000 is available per project, with a minimum cost share of 5%. The maximum amount of awards per feasibility study consultant or system owner is $50,000.
To be eligible, building owners must hire an experienced consultant to complete the feasibility work. The project location must be appropriate, receive enough sunlight, and the building must have year-round hot water needs. The application must also demonstrate that the time frame and budget required for the feasibility study are "reasonable." The consultant completes and submits the application and supporting documentation (such as aerial photos, copies of electric bills) on the building owner's behalf. All projects must be approved before feasibility study work begins.
New construction projects and existing commercial buildings offsetting natural gas, as well as electricity, oil, propane, or steam with solar hot water systems are eligible for construction rebates. Third-party owned systems are also eligible. Rebates differ depending on whether the system is OG-100 or OG-300 certified.
For OG-100 certified systems, the base rebates are as follows:
- Standard: (Average of C&D SRCC OG-100 Rating) x (# of collectors) x ($50)
- Non-Profit/Public Entity: (Average of C&D SRCC OG-100 Rating) x (# of collectors) x ($100)
- Multi-family Affordable Housing: (Average of C&D SRCC OG-100 Rating) x (# of collectors) x ($135)
The OG-300 rebate calculation is available upon request by the primary installer, subject to MassCEC approval. Base rebates under the OG-300 calculation are as follows:
- Standard: $0.17/kBTU
- Non-Profit/Public Entity: $0.26/kBTU
- Multi-family Affordable Housing: $0.35/kBTU
System owners with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems located on the same facility are eligible for a $500 adder. The PV system must be grid-tied and at least 1 kW (DC). An adder is also available for projects installing metering equipment; the rebate is the lesser of the installed cost of the metering unit or $1,500.
Maximum Rebates for all systems are as follows:
- Standard: 40% of eligible project costs, limited to $100,000 ($101,500 with maximum metering adder)
- Non-Profit/Public Entity: 65% of eligible project costs, limited to $100,000 ($101,500 with maximum metering adder)
- Multi-family Affordable Housing: 80% of eligible project costs, limited to $100,000 ($101,500 with maximum metering adder)
Applications are completed online by the installer. Pre-approval is required, and MassCEC may inspect any system after it is installed.