Commercial Solar Resources & Library

Commercial Solar Resources

MassCEC is currently in the process of developing a number of commercial solar educational resources for the Massachusetts market, including a general guidebook, two-page guides on topics like financing, procurement, and new incentive programs, as well as case studies and webinars. Please continue to check this space as more information becomes available, and also review the library of external resources below.

 

Resource Library

This page provides external resources to help you learn more about solar for businesses, assess the viability of solar for your property, and begin the installation process. The resources are organized in the following topics:

  • Commercial Solar Overview resources include guides and webpages with information on a range of commercial solar topics. General On-Site Solar resources are a helpful starting point, as well as a touchstone throughout the solar assessment process.  Solar on Leased Buildings resources help property owners and managers navigate solar installations on tenant-occupied buildings
  • Site Feasibility and Economic Analysis tools can support both high-level and detailed analyses of a solar project on your property.
  • Finding an Installer, Contracting, and Interconnection resources support you through the solar procurement process.
  • Federal and State Incentive resources describe incentive programs currently available to Massachusetts commercial entities.

Note that some details in the provided resources may not apply directly to Massachusetts, and given the constantly-evolving policy and regulatory environment, the information provided may become outdated. If you have a specific question about the resources or on a topic not covered in these resources, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or the Ask an Advisor page. Additionally, once a solar installer has been procured, they will likely be able to assist many of these steps including site assessment, understanding incentives and analysis of the economic feasibility. 

 

1.Commercial Solar Overview

General On-site Solar

On-Site Commercial Solar PV Decision Guide: Better Buildings 

This thorough and comprehensive guide summarizes a range of commercial solar electric topics, including site and building feasibility, economic analysis methods, tradeoffs of various ownership models, and a summary of the installation process. The guide links to helpful resources on technical feasibility, solar installation costs, financial feasibility assessments, and contracting. It is quite detailed, and prepares a commercial entity to self-assess their property’s fit for a solar electric system.

Solar Energy Systems for Small Commercial Businesses: Minnesota Renewable Energy Society

This guide offers a high-level summary of the considerations and steps for small commercial entities installing both solar electric and solar thermal systems. It includes especially helpful sections summarizing site feasibility and system procurement.

Solar on Leased and Rental Buildings

Solar for Apartments: Solar Market Pathways

This guide provides a seven-step process for property owners or managers to install on-site solar electric systems through virtual net-metering. The guide helps property owners and managers navigate the split incentive to ensure that solar is beneficial to both tenants and owners. The resource includes downloadable worksheets for each step that help a property owner/manager navigate the installation process. Note that while many steps and considerations in this guide are relevant to Massachusetts entities, it is a California specific resource and some details or linked resources may not be applicable. 

Promoting Solar PV on Leased Buildings Guide: Better Buildings

This document is primarily oriented toward planners and policymakers, but provides strategies to install on-site solar electric systems that are beneficial for both the property owners and tenants. Strategies cover both third-party and property owner owned electric systems and describe various ways for owners to recover installation costs.

 

2.Site Feasibility and Economic Analysis

Solar Project Builder: Midwest Renewable Energy Association

This tool can be used to compare the economic implications of various financing structures for solar electric installations. It enables users to input site- and company-specific information to receive a detailed analysis of a solar project. It is a helpful resource for deciding between a loan, lease, or power purchasing agreement.

PV Watts Calculator: NREL

The PVWatts Calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected systems throughout the world. It enables building owners to easily develop estimates for system performance. This resource is more technical than Energy Sage’s Commercial Solar Marketplace, and is most helpful when conducting a detailed site and economic analysis of a specific project.

Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet (CREST): NREL

CREST is an economic cash flow model that enables users to estimate cost of energy and levelized cost of energy from solar systems. Users can adjust variables such as size, ownership model, and resource quality to assess options. This is a technical resource that is most useful when analyzing the economics of a specific project.

 

3.Finding an Installer, Contracting, and Interconnection

Finding a Solar Installer: MassCEC

This resource offers Massachusetts-specific tips on finding an installer and external resources to local solar business associations.

Seven Steps to Selecting a Commercial Solar PV Provider: Better Buildings

This page summarizes the steps to contracting with an installer and includes downloadable documents such as a Solar PV RFP and Procurement Guidance Template and a Solar PV Cost Proposal Template that can be used by commercial entities to issue RFPs.

Model Lease and Power Purchasing Agreement and SEIA Consumer Protection Resources: Solar Energy Industries Association

These are sample solar electric lease and power purchasing contracts designed for commercial entities. This is a helpful when contracting with a solar installer to reduce legal costs.

Distributed Generation and Interconnection in Massachusetts: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

This website has thorough information about MA interconnection rules, tariffs, processes, and timeline. The application process-times database is sortable by project size and interconnection track to support interconnection time estimates. Note that interconnection will be driven by your selected solar installer. 

 

4.Federal and State Incentives   

*Your solar installer will be able to provide general guidance on state and federal incentives relevant to your particular project, and will likely assist in applying for the state incentives. 

Commercial Guide to Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): NC Clean Energy Technology Center

This factsheet provides a thorough summary of the ITC and the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS). The document describes expenses eligible for the ITC, rules for accelerated depreciation, and has helpful example calculations. 

About Solar Carve-Out II Program: Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs

This site summarizes the SREC-II program, which is a Massachusetts incentive for grid-connected solar systems. SREC-II provides owners of solar electric systems with a solar renewable energy credit (REC) that they can sell in an open market to buyers. SREC-II is the current incentive program for solar projects in Massachusetts, but will likely be replaced in 2018 with a new program, SMART (see below).

Development of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program: Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs

SMART is the upcoming new solar incentive program that is under design and will likely be finalized during 2018. This program compensates solar electric system owners for energy production at a fixed rate set at the time of solar installation.

Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART): CLEAResult

This resource provides the latest updates on the SMART program and will be used as the program’s homepage once it is implemented. It includes links to the program guidelines and to interconnection applications for National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil.