Thomas Pollin/Moment/Getty images
Written by Saltanat Berdikeeva
Edited by Hannah Hillson
Last updated 09/01/2022
Thomas Pollin/Moment/Getty images
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Massachusetts was an early adopter of solar energy, evident in how successful the state has been in replacing traditional electricity generation with solar power. Thanks to the state’s investment and incentives, it’s easier than ever for residents to take advantage of the benefits of solar.
Are you considering installing solar panels on your home? Keep reading to learn about the costs and benefits of solar panels in Massachusetts and how to decide if they’re right for your home.
The cost of a solar panel system depends on various factors, including the size of your system, the type of solar panels you choose, your roof’s age and condition, installation costs, and more. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the scientific research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, the median price of a residential solar system in Massachusetts is $3.51 per watt. Depending on the solar system size, the overall cost can range between $16,338 and $48,963 in the Bay State.
Luckily, tax credits, rebates, and other financial incentives can help reduce the upfront costs of solar panels. Between these incentives and the energy savings you can have with solar panels, the average period to break even on a home solar system is 6-10 years.
|Price Per Watt||System Size (kW)||Cost|
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The SaveOnEnergy marketplace helps you search, compare, sign up and save on the right energy fit for your home — all for free. If you’re interested in solar, answer a few questions to get an exact price quote from our solar advisors.
1. Complete the form below
2. Schedule an appointment with a solar advisor
3. Get an exact price quote for solar panels for your home
There’s no doubt that solar panels are a major investment. The good news is there are federal and state incentives that can help you cut the total cost of solar in Massachusetts, as illustrated below.
|State tax credit||Massachusetts provides financial incentives to help consumers save on solar panels. The state currently offers a 15% tax credit with a maximum credit of $1,000. You can claim the tax credit on your income taxes. If you have excess credit, you can carry it over for three consecutive years.|
|Tax exemptions||Massachusetts offers sales and property tax exemptions, meaning you won’t pay additional taxes on your solar panel purchase. You can claim these exemptions on your annual income tax return.|
|Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART)||The SMART program pays customers of three major utilities in the state — National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil — a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the power that residential solar panels generate. The program is designed in a declining block process. So, a block of capacity is available for a specific period. Once that capacity block is filled up, a new block with a lower rate will take place for another specified period.
Under the SMART program, projects with less than 25 kW capacity receive the highest base compensation rates ranging between 0.21 cents and 0.31 cents per kWh for 10 years. The rates vary between the three utilities.
|Federal tax credit||The federal Residential Clean Energy Credit (formerly known as the Investment Tax Credit) offers a 30% solar tax credit on purchasing of a solar panel system. The tax credit can save you thousands of dollars on your purchase because it credits you 30% of the total cost of your system back when you file your federal income taxes.|
There are three major benefits to going solar in Massachusetts, including financial and environmental incentives.
One of the biggest perks of installing solar panels in your home is the ability to reduce your energy costs. Massachusetts has one of the highest electricity rates in the country. A residential solar owner in Massachusetts can save more than $1,000 on annual energy costs. Additionally, solar panels can increase the value of your home, which is an enticing benefit if you decide to sell your home.
Another perk of installing solar panels is that it helps you gain more energy independence, meaning you aren’t as reliant on the traditional electricity grid to power your home. Taking a step towards energy independence means you are more protected from energy rate increases when demand is high. While most solar owners choose to remain connected to the grid, they have more control over their electricity costs because they rely more on the solar power that their system produces.
Traditional electricity sources like oil and gas produce harmful greenhouse gasses that pollute the air and water. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide contribute to climate change and are bad for the environment. Luckily, solar power is a form of clean and renewable energy. Generating solar energy doesn’t produce greenhouse gases and is considered a more sustainable and environmental source of electricity.
When you decide to invest in solar panels, you’ll have the option to either buy or lease your solar panels. While both options have some key benefits, buying solar panels ultimately offers the most savings. Purchasing your solar panels with cash, or a loan, lets you take advantage of available federal and state tax credits. You will not qualify for many tax incentives if you lease your system, including the federal solar tax credit. Additionally, owning your solar panels will provide the greatest long-term energy savings. And if you own your solar system, the resale value of your home may increase by an average of $15,000.
While leasing solar panels may not be as cost-effective as buying, it still offers plenty of benefits. First, leasing makes solar panels more affordable upfront. You’ll have the monthly costs associated with your lease but lower costs initially. Leasing may also make more sense for people renting their homes instead of owning them or for consumers who may move to a new home before the payback period.
Another alternative to buying or leasing solar panels is participating in a community solar project. When you sign up for one of these shared solar programs, you’ll receive a portion of the power produced by a solar farm and save on your monthly electricity bills. You don’t have to pay the upfront costs of buying solar panels, nor do you have to install panels on your home.
Community solar works for consumers who want to use solar energy but cannot own solar panels for financial or other reasons. Thanks to the Green Communities Act of 2008, Massachusetts residents can sign up for a community solar project. Arcadia is the largest manager of residential community solar programs in the U.S., including Massachusetts. Arcadia requires no credit check or long-term contract to join a shared solar subscription near you. If you are interested in switching to solar power for your home, here is an easy step-by-step process to sign up for community solar through Arcadia.
Once you join, Arcadia begins applying energy-saving credits you earn from participating in a shared solar program to your utility bill.
With the rise in popularity of solar panels in Massachusetts, there are also an increasing number of solar panel companies. When you find a solar installer, they will guide you through the process of creating your home solar panel system. SaveOnEnergy can connect you to a reputable solar company in Massachusetts, who can design a solar system that is right for your home. We vet our installers and provide you a curated customer experience.
Massachusetts began implementing solar policies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the first policies the state enacted were the tax credits and exemptions, which still exist. It also began encouraging solar energy development through its net metering policy, allowing homeowners to sell their excess energy back to the electricity grid. The state has passed a number of solar policies in the years since.
The state’s investments in solar power have paid off. Massachusetts now ranks 8th in the nation for solar energy generation. In 2020, 19% of the state’s total in-state electricity net generation came from solar energy. The past decade has seen a drastic increase in utility, commercial, residential, and community solar installations in Massachusetts.
Since 2018, the SMART program has been supporting the installation of up to 1,600 megawatts (MW) of solar power in the state. On January 14, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities increased the capacity from 1,600 to 3,200 MW, meaning more customers can take advantage of these incentives to cut the upfront costs of solar
Solar panels can be an excellent investment, but there are a few things to consider before you install them on your home:
The cost of solar panels depends on various factors, including the size of your system, the type of solar panels you install, local installation costs, and more. In general, you can expect to pay between $16,338 and $48,963 in Massachusetts, depending on system size and before factoring in tax credits and other incentives that can lower the total cost.
Solar power can be an excellent investment, helping you reduce your energy costs and gain more energy independence. However, it’s important to consider your energy usage habits and the amount of sunlight your property gets to determine if it’s the right decision.
The amount you could save by investing in solar power depends on the amount of energy your solar panels produce and your current energy usage habits. Massachusetts residents paid an average electricity bill of $143.58 in August 2022. You can easily calculate how much you will save by using a simple formula. For example, if the total cost of solar is $17,381 for a 6.5kW solar system after using the 30% federal tax credit on a system worth $24,830. So the savings will come down to $17,381: $143.58 x 12 = $1,452 per year. You could further increase your savings if you apply state financial incentives.
With 433 solar companies in Massachusetts, including manufacturers and installers, it can be daunting to find the trusted company. SaveOnEnergy provides many resources for homeowners thinking about going solar. Before working with a solar installer, research the company’s customer testimonials, experience, and reputation. Complete this form or call us at the number listed above to get more information and find the solar installer in Massachusetts that suits your needs.
Unlike traditional electricity generation, solar power is a renewable resource. It doesn’t emit carbon dioxide or other harmful greenhouse gasses. Installing solar panels on your home can reduce your home’s environmental footprint because you will rely more on a green energy source than traditional power sources like oil and gas.