To promote its renewable energy goals, Massachusetts commissions lucrative incentive programs to reward solar system owners for producing electricity from solar. The current program, called Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs-II), made Massachusetts one of the top three states to go solar, and any solar owner in Massachusetts is eligible to join. However, starting in August, the SREC-II program will be phased out and replaced with the new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. Only National Grid and Eversource customers are eligible for SMART, and any solar projects in municipally owned utility/light department service territories will not be able take advantage of the new solar incentives.
Differences Between SREC II and SMART
The SREC-II Program was designed to give customers one certificate/credit for every 1,000 kWh of solar energy that their system generates. The certificates could then be sold, through an auction to utilities, in order to help them meet their renewable energy requirements set by the state. The auction format, while lucrative, leads to variable pricing, because as more solar is installed the SREC availability for utilities increases and auction prices drop. So SREC-II income is front-loaded, and collected quarterly over 10 years.
SMART on the other hand, is a fixed rate incentive, collected on your monthly utility bill. Rather than needing to produce 1,000 kWh to collect a credit, that you then must wait months to sell, SMART rewards you for your solar production each month. The incentive is set-up on entry to the program and held constant for 10 years. It is based on factors like the size of the system, utility provider, and current cost of electricity on the site. Additionally, the incentive can increase if it includes features like battery or solar tracking devices.
If you live in a municipal electrical utility territory and are considering solar, now is the time to install. An average residential solar system in MA produces 5,000-10,000 kWh of electricity, which is worth $8,500 – $17,000 under the SREC-II program. Losing out on this incentive generally means an increase in payback time of 3-5 years. Both the SMART program and the SREC II program have great incentives, but municipal customers can only take advantage of the SREC-II program. Time is running out!
See the list below to find out if your municipal utility company will prevent you from collecting SMART incentives.
· Braintree Electric Light Department
· Chicopee Electric Light Department
· Concord Municipal Light Plant
· Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant
· Holyoke Gas & Electric Department
· Ipswich Utilities
· North Attleborough Electric
· Princeton Municipal Light Department
· Reading Municipal Light Department
· Shrewsbury’s Electric Light Plant
· Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant
· Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department
· Westfield Gas & Electric Light Department
No Idea where to start? Visit ownmysolar.com for more information.
Taylor Frothingham, Taylor is a Solar Analyst at NRGTree