MassCEC Announces New Pilot for Commercial Solar Hot Water

Media Inquiries:

Craig Gilvarg
(617) 315-9339
Aug 4, 2011 –

Building on the success of the new residential Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program, which has awarded rebates for 110 solar hot water projects at homes across Massachusetts since its opening in February 2011, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) today unveiled a new rebate program to help building owners finance commercial size solar hot water projects.
“This new solar hot water initiative will put clean, solar technology within the reach of more businesses across the Commonwealth, building on the stunning success of existing MassCEC solar power incentive programs and locking in long-term energy savings for commercial and industrial building owners,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs the MassCEC board of directors. 
“This program will continue our solar revolution here in the Commonwealth by helping building owners assess the benefits of installing solar hot water as a means to managing rising energy costs,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “This program is just one of many, helping people throughout Massachusetts adopt clean energy technologies.”
The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial Pilot Program complements the current Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Pilot Program by providing funding to commercial and large multi-family building owners interested in installing solar hot water (SHW) systems. The program will offer $1 million in grants through a non-competitive application process for SHW pre-design studies and construction projects.  
Starting this week, MassCEC will begin accepting applications for pre-design study grants for commercial and large multi-family building owners interested in installing solar hot water. Eligible applicants can receive up to $10,000, with a required a cost-share of 25 percent for non-public commercial entities. No cost share is required for public entities.
Click Here To Access Application Documents for the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial Program
In September 2011, MassCEC will begin accepting applications for design and construction grants, which will be structured similar to the residential rebates in which rebates are based on project size and the solar collector’s efficiency rating. 
Solar hot water systems generate heat from sunlight to make hot water. Roof mounted solar ‘collectors’ for hot water systems look very similar to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which generate electricity rather than hot water.  A solar hot water system can be connected to a home’s existing hot water tank to heat water and usually provides 50 percent to 75 percent of total household hot water needs. Some solar hot water systems can also connect with the heating system to provide space heating.  Because about 20 percent of the energy a consumer uses at home goes to heating hot water, solar hot water systems can generate significant savings by decreasing the amount of gas, oil or electricity used to heat the water. 
To qualify, a resident and project site must be an electric customer of NSTAR, National Grid, Unitil, or Western Massachusetts Electric Co., or of a municipal power company that participates in MassCEC's Renewable Energy Trust Fund. These include Ashburnham, Templeton, Holden, Holyoke and Russell. The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program is funded with $1 million from MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust Fund. 
In the first five months of the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Pilot Program, MassCEC has awarded more than $200,000 in rebates, which has helped to sell almost $1.6 million of solar hot water systems in Massachusetts. These 110 projects total over 10,000 square feet of solar collectors, equivalent to over 620,000 kWh in expected annual energy production. A total of 35 primary installers have successfully submitted an application through the program.
As a result of the Commonwealth Solar photovoltaic rebate programs launched in 2008 and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for solar on water treatment facilities and other public buildings, Massachusetts has seen a more than 30-fold increase in solar PV installations since 2007. As of August 2011 there are more than 57 MW of solar energy installed in Massachusetts, and an additional 36 MW under contract for installation, up from 3.5 MW when Governor Patrick took office.
CommSolar rebate programs also helped spur a vibrant solar industry in Massachusetts. According to a MassCEC survey of clean energy companies, employment in solar manufacturing, installation, and services has increased nearly three times since Governor Patrick first took office, and solar manufacturing jobs alone have close to tripled from 2007 to 2010.
To find out more about solar hot water, see the “Solar Hot Water Factsheet” at