Many people are under the assumption that, because Massachusetts in located in the northern part of the United States, solar energy is not effective. However, solar systems work very well in the state. In fact, despite its diverse climate, Massachusetts was one of the first states in the country to utilize solar energy systems.
The following is a brief guide detailing the various types of solar energy, the way the energy is used in Massachusetts and the different incentives and programs that are available to property owners who install solar panels in Massachusetts on their buildings.
Solar Energy Is A Clean Energy Source For Massachusetts
Solar energy is a renewable energy source that is found in abundance anywhere that receives radiation from the sun. It is a clean energy source, and it is a very important part of Massachusetts clean energy portfolio.
As mentioned, the weather conditions in the region have not affected solar energy’s popularity in the state. Many energy and environmental experts agree that the state is an ideal location for utilizing solar resources.
The Different Types Of Solar Energy
The first type of solar energy is known as passive energy. There are buildings that can be built so they are able to collect solar energy, store the energy and then distribute the energy as heat when necessary. These buildings are known as passive solar structures.
They are able to maximum their absorption of the sun by having south-facing windows installed. Thick and dark-colored materials are installed in the building to create a thermal mass. In simpler terms, the sunlight is stored in the building as solar heat.
Photovoltaics is another type of solar energy, and it is a module that consists of an array of cells. Each one of these cells contain semiconductor material that is capable of transforming solar radiation into electricity that can be directly used in a home or a business.
This type of system does not pollute the environment, and it can also help customers cut costs on their electricity bills. In Massachusetts, PV systems are very affordable.
Is Using Solar Energy Possible In Massachusetts?
Even with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ yearly average of isolation, there is still enough solar energy that reaches the state to produce sufficient energy for PV systems. Also, solar panels and modules typically work more efficiently when the weather is cooler. They are also not affected by snow or ice.
The solar panels are installed at angles in Massachusetts. This is necessary because it prevents snow from blocking the sunlight while making sure the radiation from the sun is absorbed by the panels.
With that said, what are the state’s laws regarding solar panels?
The SMART Program
The state has a solar energy program in place known as SMART. This stands for ‘Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program‘. The DOER (Department of Energy Resources) regulation in 225 CMR 20.00 serves as the foundation for the regulatory framework for the solar energy program.
The program is based on tariff incentives, and these incentives are paid out by the utilities directly to the owner of the system. However, each application for the incentives must be brought before the Solar Program Administrator before they are approved.
The program is a 1600MW reduced block incentive solar program. In order for solar projects to be approved for the program, they must be connected with one of the privately owned utility companies in the state. These companies are:
- National Grid
All of these utility companies have blocks that are established. These blocks have declining incentive rates them.
As of 2018, in order to qualify for the SMART program, an applicant had to meet the following qualifications:
- Facilities that use up to 25 kW AC must be reviewed. They are then placed in Capacity Blocks by the order in which their contract was accepted and executed.
- Facilities that use more than 25 kW AC will be reviewed. The order in which they are placed in Capacity Blocks is dependent on when the Interconnection Services Agreement was approved and executed.
Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard
The state averages a B on its RPS. The renewable portfolio standard is a law that is mandated by the state legislature. It states that a certain percentage of the total energy generation for an area from a renewable source is completed by a specific date.
The utilities in the state have to meet these standards by generating the renewable energy on its own, or by purchasing the energy from customers when they use solar panels.
The RPS that is currently in Massachusetts is a two-tiered plan that establishes standards for both the Class I and Class II energy production. Class I is new solar energy resources, and Class II is existing resources.
Massachusetts is known for much more than the Red Sox, outstanding universities and pilgrims. It is also a pioneer in the solar energy sector. As the state continues to make incentives and rewards more attractive for residents, the more residents will begin to transition to using solar panels to generate renewable, clean solar energy.