Community solar has gained traction recently, and is a great way to go solar without having to install panels on your property. When you participate in a community solar project, you can get clean energy to your home. In the state of Massachusetts, there are several options for homeowners looking to get involved in a community solar project.
Massachusetts community solar legislation
The Green Communities Act of 2008 established virtual net metering in the state of Massachusetts. Virtual net metering allows any single customer to transfer electricity generation credits to other customers for full retail credit. As a result, thanks to this legislation, community solar projects can give each of their subscribers full bill credit at the retail electricity rate for the electricity generated by their community solar shares. Since the passage of this bill, Massachusetts has become a national leader in community solar projects and support.
More recently, Massachusetts’ current SREC II program, which incentivises solar installations, has hit its cap. A new replacement program has been introduced, which includes a section detailing new incentives specifically for community solar customers. Known as the SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) program, it will likely go into effect in mid-2018, so the actual details of the new community solar incentives are not set in stone. Regardless, it is clear that Massachusetts values the community solar model, and will continue to invest in making community solar cost-effective and readily available for its residents.
Massachusetts community solar options
If you are looking to get involved in a community solar project in Massachusetts, there are many factors to consider, from types of products to local community solar providers.
Community solar providers
The most common providers of community solar options in Massachusetts are power companies, solar providers, and private equity firms. Power companies like Nexamp develop massive community solar arrays available for partial ownership or subscription. Solar providers like Blue Wave have specialized offerings in community solar, and construct local solar projects available to specific geographic regions. Companies like Arcadia Power aggregate these developments and provide access to them through an online portal. Lastly, private equity firms like Syncarpha work very similarly to solar providers. They will make investments in the form of solar arrays, which are made available to community solar participants.
You can use EnergySage’s Community Solar Marketplace to find community solar projects offered by Arcadia Power, Blue Wave, and Syncarpha in Massachusetts, and even determine which projects are available for your particular area.
Community solar contract options: ownership vs. subscription
Depending on your provider, you have two options for community solar in Massachusetts – ownership and subscription.
In an ownership model, you directly purchase a set number of solar panels in a community array, and receive the energy those panels produce. Importantly, you don’t actually “own” the panels – you own the energy coming from those specific modules.
In a subscription model, you can pay a fixed rate per month for to receive a amount of energy from a community solar array. There are several sub-models of the subscription model.
Local vs. national community solar
When it comes to location, you can choose to go with a local community solar project, or in the case of companies like Arcadia Power, a community solar project located anywhere in the country. In choosing a national provider, you can purchase panels in a project at any location nationally and see savings on your electricity bill.
Local projects are very similar to national community solar models, just closer to home. By subscribing to or owning part of a local community solar array, you can receive credit for the power your panels produce while supporting local clean energy development.
Community solar vs. rooftop solar in Massachusetts
Because of community solar-friendly legislation, choosing to power your home through a community solar subscription in Massachusetts is a solid option, even when compared to rooftop solar. However, there are still a few differences between rooftop and community solar to consider when comparing the two.
Massachusetts solar incentives
One reason to consider rooftop solar over community solar in Massachusetts is the availability of tax credits to lower the cost of a residential rooftop solar. In the state of Massachusetts, you can get up to a $1,000 income tax credit for your solar installation, on top of the federal income tax credit (ITC). Between these financial incentives, buying and installing a rooftop solar installation becomes less daunting and typically shows a greater return on investment than community solar options.
Depending on what type of solar warranties are available for your rooftop solar installation, subscribing to a community solar project generally eliminates panel maintenance and repair costs. In the vast majority of community solar projects, the project manager is responsible for upkeep on their array. In some situations, damage to your rooftop solar system may lead to extra costs, especially if you are over your warranty time period. Most solar warranties will cover all the damage your system might see, but in some rare cases you might save money on upkeep by choosing to subscribe to a community solar project.
One benefit of installing rooftop solar that you cannot get through a community solar project is the added home value incurred from having your own solar array. Placing panels on your roof ensures that any future owner of your property can produce clean, free electricity, which makes your home a more compelling option for prospective buyers and increases your home’s value.
Use EnergySage to find the right solar option for your home
Both community solar and rooftop solar are clean, sustainable energy options. Deciding which solar option is best for you depends on many factors, including location, pricing, and personal preference. If you want to explore your local community solar options, the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace is a great way to explore what options you might have in your state. Alternatively, the EnergySage Solar Marketplace is the best way to solicit quotes for rooftop solar installations from pre-vetted, qualified solar installers if you decide that you want to have your own solar array on your property.