Copyright © 2013 Shenzhen Richroc Electronic Co., Ltd
By Gerry Tuoti
and Molly Loughman
Posted Jun. 14, 2014 @ 7:05 am
As the use of solar energy has grown exponentially over the past decade, Massachusetts has become a national leader in the field.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs recently launched the second phase of a state program designed to increase the commonwealth’s net solar energy capacity to 1,600 MW (megawatts) by 2020.
While solar energy production has spiked in recent years, in-state solar projects still only account for approximately 1 percent of the power consumed in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts currently has 496 MW of solar energy capacity, up from less than 1 MW 10 years ago.
The second phase of the state’s Solar Carve-Out Program, SREC-II, adds a new round of financial incentives, tax credits and reimbursements to encourage the construction of more solar arrays.
Project-eligible solar generation increased by more than 700 percent between 2010 and 2011, and by more than 300 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
"There is now more than 140 times the amount of installed solar than there was in 2007 and SREC-II will continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create clean energy jobs and make Massachusetts more energy independent," Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said in a statement.
The average American home uses 10,837 kWh of electricity annually, which would be the equivalent of 0.001 MW applied constantly for one year.
Wilmington Town Manager Jeffrey M. Hull said the town is within the Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD).
"Though Wilmington does have at least one site that may eventually become viable candidate for a solar farm, this site is not currently at a point in the DEP monitoring and closure process amendable to developing a solar farm," he said. "What we do have is larger manufacturing buildings that have the potential to be equipped with solar installations. This is where RMLD comes into the picture. RMLD is a tremendously active partner in helping the community reduce energy costs and consumption."
According to Jane D. Parenteau, director of Integrated Resources and Planning Reading Municipal Light Department, There are seven residential customers with solar in Wilmington, totaling 44KW (kilowatts) and one commercial customer, who have installed a 64 KW system.
"From the municipal light department perspective, solar farms allows people to invest in solar, even if their home location isn't ideal for solar," she said. "It allows people to participate who may not be able to on their own and from a cost perspective; it gives them more options, as opposed to having to put an entire solar system on their roof."
The cost for the average household to install solar can range between$15,000 and $20,000.
Parenteau said there are incentives to homeowners who want to install solar. For instance, RMLD offers up to a $2,000 rebate and a net metering rebate, where customers can market their Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) for additional revenue to offset the cost, which is done through the state.