What you should know about Massachusetts’s valuable solar incentive
Periodically here on the Zenernet blog we’ve been devoting some time to giving a rundown of some of the latest and greatest incentives to go solar in different states. Today we’re looking at Massachusetts’s recently-expanded SMART incentive.
Under SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target), your utility pays you for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy your solar system generates at a fixed rate for 10 years (or 20+ years for larger commercial solar installs). SMART is similar in some ways to the SREC programs in other states that we’ve talked about before. The difference is that in an SREC program, the credits you earn for generating solar energy are sold on a market exchange, but SMART simplifies the process by paying you at a fixed rate.
What’s slightly less simple is the system of how solar customers participate in and get paid through the program, so we’ll try to boil it down to the bare essentials here.
SMART is available to customers of the three investor-owned utility companies in the state: Unitil, Eversource, and National Grid. Originally, the program had a capacity of 1600 megawatts of solar installations, divided up among the three utilities in phases called “blocks.” At the end of 2021, that was doubled to 3200 MW to help the state hit its Renewable Portfolio Standard goals for green energy. Exactly how much compensation you receive for every kWh of energy your solar install generates depends on which utility you’re a customer of, the region of that utility’s service area you live in, and what “block” you end up in when you join the program. The value of the program gradually decreases with each block phase. This means that simply put, it pays to get on board sooner rather than later.
The currently available SMART blocks pay homeowners around 21-23 cents per kWh of energy their solar system generates. For a fairly typical 6 kW home solar system, that works out to a return of about $1700 per year. The program also contains additional incentives for customers who install a battery storage system. All of this is before we consider the value of Massachusetts’s net metering policies, which pay you for generating more energy with your solar system than you use.
All of this adds up to one of the most attractive packages of financial incentives for going solar anywhere in the country. However, even with the doubling of capacity announced last year, the SMART program won’t be around forever, and the value of participating will continue to gradually decline as it moves into later blocks. If you’re a Massachusetts resident who’s thinking about going solar, schedule a convenient remote consultation today. Our experts can answer your questions about residential solar and help you decide if it makes financial sense for you, taking advantage of SMART and all other available incentives. And if you haven’t already, follow us on social media to keep up with our explainers on solar policy and incentives in Massachusetts and across the country.