solar money out the windowIf you live in Massachusetts and your electricity is provided by your town’s “municipal utility,” then now would be a good time to go solar. Why? Starting in 2018, the SREC solar incentive program will end and the new SMART program will start. However, the SMART program will only be available to customers of Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) — National Grid, Eversource and Unitil. That means customers of “muni’s” as we fondly call them will go from being eligible for SRECs, which provide thousands of dollars in green income over 10 years, to not being eligible for any state solar incentive other than a $1,000 tax credit. (You are still very eligible for the federal tax credit that pays 30% of your system cost.)

What’s the real financial impact of this change?

A muni customer installing a typical solar system will earn almost $20,000 in SREC income over 10 years. Under the SMART program, you will earn no green income. It’s that cut and dry. You get about $20,000 if you go solar this year; $0 if you wait until next year. Read my earlier blog article on SREC vs. SMART for the assumptions used in coming up with that figure.

If you think this is unfair, contact your local utility or, even better, your state legislators. Municipal utilities are, for the most part, self-regulating and don’t fall under the same Department of Public Utilities regulations as the IOUs. But, you are still a constituent of your legislators and they care what you think.

Not sure if you have a municipal utility? Here’s a list of the muni towns in New England Clean Energy’s solar service area:

  • Ashburnham (Note: The Town of Ashburnham is not allowing any new solar installations.)
  • Belmont
  • Berkley
  • Boxborough
  • Boylston
  • Concord
  • Dighton
  • Groton
  • Holden
  • Hudson
  • Lakeville
  • Littleton
  • Mansfield
  • Marblehead
  • North Attleboro
  • Norwood
  • Paxton
  • Peabody
  • Princeton (Note: Princeton does not pay for excess generation which makes it a good location for generation-shifting batteries like the Tesla PowerWall. In fact, the Tesla PowerWall will work well in most of the Muni-served towns.)
  • Raynham
  • Shrewsbury
  • Sterling
  • Stow
  • Taunton
  • Templeton
  • Wakefield
  • Wilmington
  • Wellesley
  • West Boylston.

So if you live in one of these towns and you’re thinking about solar, start looking into it now. I’m not being overly dramatic when I say time is running out for you. And remember it takes several months to get your solar approved and installed.


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