Building on the success of the Commonwealth Solar rebate program, which issued awards for 23.5 MW of solar power in less than two years, Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., has unveiled new rebate programs that continue the momentum toward Massachusetts' goal of 250 MW of solar energy installed by 2017.
Beginning in late January, the new programs – Commonwealth Solar II and Commonwealth Solar Stimulus – will begin accepting rebate applications from residents and businesses seeking help financing their solar photovoltaic systems. The new rebate programs will benefit from a two-pronged funding scheme. Funding for Commonwealth Solar II, which provides rebates for small residential and commercial PV systems, will come from $1 million per quarter in existing funds from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET). Now, as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the MRET is financed through a small renewable energy charge on utility ratepayers' monthly bills.
As part of the Patrick-Murray administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, the commonwealth plans to tap $8 million in State Energy Program funding awarded to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Commonwealth Solar Stimulus, which will assist PV systems between 5 kW and 200 kW.
To further support the financing of projects eligible for the rebate program – as well as those greater than 200 kW – the DOER is developing regulations for a new Solar Credit market under the state's renewable portfolio standard. The Solar Credit initiative, authorized by the Green Communities Act of 2008, will be an important and sustainable part of building predictable market support for the solar industry in Massachusetts and is expected to begin in early January.