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New Massachusetts Clean Energy Standard

On August 11, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection announced new regulations to comply with the newest and most ambitious state law. The general announcement can be seen here at the Boston Globe.

At SunRa Solar, Inc., we are constantly on the lookout for anything that affects solar energy costs or solar technology. So, as the ink is drying on the legislation and corresponding regulations, we take a look at the most important changes and describe their impact.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Standard

Global Warming Solutions Act

Beginning in 2008, the state finalized the most recent version of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). As recently as 2016 the statutory requirements and compliance measures were contested for clarity in the courts. Here is a brief and more complete GWSA explanation of the details that we highlight below:

  • The original law in 2008 set a goal to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions 25% by the year 2020. This target is proving to be a challenge for state utilities and has compliance has been argued in court.
  • The statute was designed to be more far reaching. To to that it established a more aggressive goal, requiring the state to reduce total emissions 80% by 2050, using 1990 as the baseline. Said another way, by 2050 the state must emit 20% of the 1990 levels of GHG.
  • The requirements of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are incorporated.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard

As far back as 2002, the state of Massachusetts established a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), requiring all retail electricity suppliers to provide a minimum percentage of kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales from renewable energy.

  • The program began requiring only 1% of sales to come from renewable sources.
  • To meet the 2020 target of 15% of sales, the program gradually escalated by about 1% per year.
  • From 2020 to 2050, the RPS requires a 2% escalation per year. By 2050 the current standard requires that 80% of sales of electrical power come from renewable energy sources.

The Bottom Line - Massachusetts Clean Energy Standard

In order to properly meet the codified standards, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued new rules and regulations. Both the GWSA and RPS requirements are factored in.

Here is a quick summary of the August 11, 2017 final communication:

  • Existing power plants are given CO2 emission limits. They are as a low as approximately 1,600 metric tons per year (Medway Station) and as high as approximately 1,500,000 metric tons per year (Mystic). Clearly the size of the facility impacts the emission limits.
  • The combined total of new generating facilities will be limited to 1.5 million metric tons of CO2.
  • It further requires that between 2018 and 2050 there is an overall  80% reduction of CO2 emissions from all power generation, a number conveniently equal to the RPS clean energy target.

What Does This Mean for the Homeowner?

Every rule and every regulation has a bottom line impact on the operation of traditional power generating facilities. Now that the utilities can plan around the newly locked future limits, the will begin planning their strategy.

This leaves power companies with two avenues for compliance. They may make significant investments in large renewable energy facilities, both solar and wind. As of today, for example, offshore wind in now becoming a reality for coastal Massachusetts. But they also have the option of buying addition Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and especially Solar RECs (SRECs).

At SunRa Solar we think this will guarantee a strong market for the SRECs and a great value for homeowners who chose solar energy systems.

Keep an eye on this page as we update you with more details and analysis!.

Ready to look into rooftop solar for your home? Contact Us here to find out more about how you can start saving thousands with solar.

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SunRa Solar is consistently shopping for the best financing options for our customers. Some may choose to purchase their solar energy system in full. For others, whether you choose to borrow or lease, we partner with some of the most reputable names in the industry. Our goal is to provide each customer with an affordable, turnkey system to meet their expectation and needs.

To get the most up to date information on the latest and greatest financing programs to make solar power more affordable for you, Contact Us here.

The meter is a critical part of the solar energy system. In Massachusetts, net metering allows you to use your utility company to store your energy. Unlike a traditional power meter that spins in one direction, as you produce solar energy, your meter will literally spin backwards. Then, as you use electricity at night, the net meter allows you to pull energy from the grid so you always have power.

Whenever you are generating more power than you can use, the meter tracks the amount that you transmit to the utility grid. This is why a well designed solar system can produce enough power in a summer to help offset more power needed in winter months, when the sun shines less.

Here you can read a little more about net metering.

A solar panel is an assembly of individual solar “cells”, each almost always made from different forms of silicon. Each panel differs in the numbers of cells combined, from 60 to 72 per panel, and in the technology used in the manufacture of each cell and the assembly into a panel.

Because solar panel technology is constantly improving, there are a range of panel efficiency (%) and panel rating (kW) available for design. Not every installation calls for the newest and most expensive technology. Good system design is a balance between cost and performance, and often a well-established and earlier generation panel can deliver 25+ years of affordable, reliable service.

This is why SunRa Solar stays on top of developments and offers panels from a few manufacturers including LG Solar, one of the largest brands represented in Massachusetts, and others.

Every homeowner gets an immediate savings as soon as we flip the switch and you start to generate power. If you sign up to purchase, your agreement will spell out for you each monthly payment.

If you finance some or all of your solar energy system, your savings are easily calculated by comparing the sum of your new payments to your previous bills. If you purchase a system without financing, your monthly utility payments could be negligible.

The best news, whether you purchase outright, finance a purchase, or choose a lease you will be able to predictably bank your savings. Ask us to show you how in more detail by click to Contact Us. Or simply give us a call.

Whether paying cash or borrowing, a homeowner buying a solar energy system can take advantage of the Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%.

Homeowners buying solar in Massachusetts are no longer able to accrue and trade Solar Renewable Energy Certificates under the new program program. The Solar Mass SMART. It was known as SREC 2 or SREC II. This program allows homeowners to sell the accrued credits to utilities in blocks of 1 MWh each. To learn more about this program and its current status, visit our Learning Center.

Massachusetts also allows Net Metering, which gives the solar system owner the ability to feed back to the utility grid through a special meter any momentarily generated solar power not needed by the home. Any extra is credited in kWh (kilowatt-hours), the same units you see on your power bill.