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Massachusetts High Energy Costs Favor Solar

Energy costs typically rise over time. While heating fuel prices may fluctuate season to season and within a season, the longer trend is that prices rise. Electricity costs also fluctuate, but the downward dips in prices are small and the increases are much more common.

Over the last decade retail costs have risen steadily across the country. This graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), you can see a nominal fluctuation with months. However, over time the trend is a constant increase in the price of electricity, and it is especially true for residential energy costs. The industrial buyers benefit from preferred volume pricing and at times contracted commitments. But even with those advantages, that sector’s retail electricity prices have increased also.

EIA Average Retail Electricity Prices Through 2016

U.S. Electricity Price History

Click to see larger image

In Massachusetts, you don’t have to search very long or dig very deep to find current efforts to request rate increases. For example, in June of 2017 Eversource is mulling a rate increase that will vary between locations as a 3% up to a 11% hike.

This may not be news for those ratepayers who watch the utilities closely. But everyone may be surprised to learn how Massachusetts compares both to our neighbors and to the other 50 states. There are a number of factors that make most analysts predict that power rates will continue to escalate, which is not a difficult conclusion to draw given history.

According to the EIA:

  • Massachusetts has the most expensive residential retail electricity rates in New England, beating out Connecticut after a recent decrease in that state.
  • Between April 2016 and April 2017 the overall retail price for the region dropped a small 0.21%. However, the Bay State rose by a small amount (about 0.55%).
  • Nationwide, only the states of Hawaii and Alaska have more expensive electricity.

The agency responsible for adequate power supply and quality for New England, ISO-NE, routinely takes a look at each state’s supply and demand needs. Of course, those two factors have the most influence on rates. A few key observations that would tend to support increasing rates in the future include the following:

  • The state is replacing over 3.4 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity (coal, oil, and nuclear).
  • As the study was completed, the state had added about 3 GW of new natural gas, solar, wind, and hydro capacity. Some may be imported from as far away as Canada, but more new capacity will likely be built, also.
  • The state has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and has voted recent policy changes to facilitate more solar energy, wind energy, and energy storage. ISO-NE expects that as much as 700 MW (0.7 GW) of solar PV could be installed by homeowners and landowners and others not a part of the utilities in the near future.

The first two pieces of data are frequently used by power companies as reasons when requesting rate increases. And the forecast non-utility capacity additions represent energy that will not produce revenue for any utility. The picture being painted here is one where most of the trends increase the utility costs to operate while potentially reducing their revenue sources by some amount. Even as natural gas prices currently are reportedly low, the cost to operate remains relatively high for the region.

There are few ways Massachusetts homeowners can change the trend of escalating costs. Certainly becoming more of an advocate and participating in the utility regulation process could be one way to have an impact. That takes time. Often that can take years.

Residents of the state and the elected people are more committed than ever to increasing the use of clean energy and solar energy, in particular. Solar prices have been declining over the past decade. Because of this, the opportunities for homeowners to get relief with a lowered, predictable energy budget have never been better.

We encourage you to drop us a note by either clicking the EXPLORE tab to the right or just contact us directly. You deserve to find out all the possibilities to escape the every increasing electricity costs in Massachusetts. Just as this family in Framingham found a solution, so can you. Learn more here about your solar energy options.

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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.