The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has identified Massachusetts as one of the few states that is experiencing a “pretty hot” solar market. The state has more than tripled its solar-generating capacity in the last two years alone.
Historically speaking, Massachusetts residents have paid a higher price for electricity than in other states around the country. This is one reason why the state has seen such explosive solar energy growth over the last two years; solar is more competitive when up against high energy rates.
Massachusetts’ Department of Energy Resources now reports a solar-generating capacity of 143.1 megawatts around the state. That amount of solar energy could power more than 21,000 households around the state. SEIA expects Massachusetts to be in the top 10 solar states by the end of 2012.
Of course it’s not just high energy costs that are driving solar development: commercial building owners, municipalities and large retail companies like REI and Kohl’s are using the state’s myriad of solar incentives to bring down the cost of installing systems.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has encouraged the ramping up of solar in the state by announcing an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 250 MW of solar-generating capacity in the next five years. By 2020, utilities in Massachusetts are required to have 15 percent of their energy generated by renewable sources.
Because of these mandates, the state has developed robust incentive programs like Commonwealth Solar that offers rebates for solar energy projects. Likewise, Solarize Massachusetts educates consumers in both the residential and commercial markets to consider saving money on solar installation costs through bulk purchases.
Local energy audit company Ameresco has watched the solar growth in Massachusetts over the last two years with interest. Jim Walker heads that company’s solar operations. He said he noticed an uptick in solar interest as incentives in surrounding states expired.
“That brought in more investment and more companies taking a look at Massachusetts,” Walker told the Boston Globe.