The Massachusetts SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) program is inching closer to reality, and we are quoting systems assuming the home or business owner will be in SMART as opposed to the previous program called SRECs. The “base compensation rates” have been set and the results are actually very encouraging.
In some cases, particularly for Eversource customers, SMART pays out almost as much as SRECs. In the “worst case” which is for Unitil customers, you’re still getting more than $7,500 in green income over 10 years. And the rate for that income is guaranteed not to change, unlike SRECs which are sold in a market and fluctuate quarter to quarter. So those averse to playing the market will enjoy and possibly prefer the predictability of SMART payments.
Here’s a sample of what SMART will deliver to people going solar in the near future. But first, a reminder that homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs also get:
- A 30% federal tax credit
- A state tax credit, typically $1,000
- Net Metering, which allows you to “bank” solar energy you don’t need when it’s created, and to use that “credit” later.
Those three programs allow solar to reduce your overall cost of electricity substantially. Then, SMART green income sweetens the pot even more.
TOTAL SMART INCOME OVER 10 YEARS
|Utility||Premium Panels||Standard Panels|
|National Grid Customers||$10,022||$9,681|
Estimates based on 10 years, 85% roof. “Premium” is a 7,920-watt system with 24, 330-watt panels, producing 89,316 kWh. “Standard” is a similar wattage system.
Status: While the guaranteed base compensation rates for Block 1 – the initial round of SMART – have been set, the launch date of the program is still up in the air. That date can’t be set until the “tariff” (translation: rate) is approved by the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU). That tariff is the subject of a proceeding currently before the DPU, but developing new regulations takes time.
How It Works: The rate of the SMART payments to solar owners was determined through a competitive bidding process – that’s how the base compensation figures were set. SMART is set up in “declining blocks” of 200 megawatts (MW). When the 200 MW limit is reached, a new bidding process occurs and the next lower-value block starts. So the early bird gets the bigger worm in SMART. Unlike SRECs, which were bought and sold in a market and thus changed in value every quarter, SMART payments will be for a guaranteed price.
More Benefits: SMART has some valuable elements in addition to the base compensation, like the fact that residential projects get twice the incentive rate as large commercial projects. Score one for the little guy. (Clearly I’m in a cliché mood today.) And there is a booster for installing battery storage in conjunction with your solar energy system.
So don’t let anyone tell you solar isn’t as profitable as it used to be. Give me a call (978-56-SOLAR) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to learn what SMART could earn you.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:
- Can You Use the 30% Federal Tax Credit for Solar?
- From SREC to SMART: How MA Solar Incentives Are Changing
- Solar is Not a One Size Fits All Product