Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) today announced the end of the successful Commonwealth Solar II program, which will have provided rebates for more than 13,000 solar electric systems at homes, public buildings, and small businesses across the Commonwealth since 2010.
“The Commonwealth Solar II program has enabled thousands of individuals the ability to produce their own electricity while taking control of their energy futures, and I commend the homeowners and small businesses that were able to take advantage of this rebate program,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.
Under the life of the Commonwealth Solar II program, installation prices for small-scale solar systems have dropped dramatically, falling nearly 30 percent since the program’s inception.
“This program was launched to help drive down the price of small solar electric systems in Massachusetts, and with prices dropping significantly over the past several years, the time is right to phase out this successful program,” said Barton. “This program has met its ambitious goals of increasing the adoption of solar electricity and creating high-quality local jobs.”
Created to stimulate adoption of small-scale solar systems, the rebate program was funded by MassCEC and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Small scale solar systems have stimulated expansion of the Massachusetts solar industry, creating high-quality jobs. The Massachusetts solar industry now employs more than 12,000 workers, including installers, salespeople and innovators.
“Thanks to programs like this and DOER’s Solar Carve-out Program, we have experienced significant growth in solar installations across Massachusetts,” said Acting DOER Commissioner Dan Burgess. “Residents and businesses in every corner of the Commonwealth are taking their energy future into their own hands by investing in solar, reducing emissions and creating jobs along the way.”
Solar prices have been shown to drop an additional nearly 20 percent in communities that have participated in another MassCEC and DOER program, Solarize Mass, a coordinated outreach and group purchasing program in which the savings go up as more people sign contracts for solar electric systems.
Corresponding to these falling prices, MassCEC has scaled back rebate levels over time, from an average of 20 percent of project costs in the program’s first funding block to an average of 5 percent of project costs in the program’s last funding block. The Commonwealth Solar II program will have provided $36 million in rebates, helping to facilitate an investment of more than $407 million in in solar electric systems across Massachusetts.
Through efforts like the rebate program and Solarize Mass, more and more homeowners in Massachusetts have installed solar. Today there are over 10,500 residential solar systems installed in the state. There are 715 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 100,000 Massachusetts homes.
“The residential solar sector has seen remarkable growth in Massachusetts due to smart policies and programs like the Commonwealth Solar II,” said New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) President Peter Rothstein. “This program and others have allowed the Massachusetts solar industry to grow and thrive into one that supports thousands of jobs and is helping lower energy bills for thousands of residents and businesses in Massachusetts.”
“This program has been a huge success driving down the cost of residential solar in Massachusetts and should serve as a model for other states to follow,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Solar continues to thrive in Massachusetts because innovative programs like this one are delivering on the promise to bring down the price of solar systems, benefitting homeowners, businesses and government entities. They are also allowing the solar industry in the Commonwealth to grow quickly, creating thousands of good-paying jobs and providing a big boost to the state and local economies.”
MassCEC is partnering with DOER to launch Mass Solar Loan, a new program set to open this spring and focused on connecting homeowners who install solar electric systems with low-interest loans to help finance the projects.