Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Program Director Elizabeth Kennedy explains facts about energy at Wednesday's Solarize Mass program.
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents in the Mother Town may not care for large solar arrays, but they are interested in how smaller-scale solar can help beat energy costs.
A near capacity crowd filled the GAR Memorial Hall at the Free Library on Wednesday to hear from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center on the Solarize Mass program and the incentives available for those interested in installing solar panels on their homes.
Center spokeswoman Elizabeth Kennedy explained that the Solarize Mass program provides a group purchasing model that drives down the price of the installation of the panels.
The selected installer of the panels saves money through the group purchasing model, which brings down the cost of the installation. The amount of people that sign up for the program will determine the amount of money subtracted from the original installation price.
"Through partnering directly with the community through this group purchasing model they [the installer] are able to save on that cost, and they are then passing on those savings to you as a consumer in the program," Kennedy said. "There are a number of people that have already expressed an interest in the program."
Kennedy also added that other incentives to install photovoltaic panels are available from both the state and the federal government. The federal government provides a 30 percent federal tax credit on the total installation cost. Also, Massachusetts offers a $1,000 income tax credit to households that install solar panels.
Kennedy explained that "net metering" also provides an incentive to install solar panels. Net metering allows home owners to sell electricity back to the grid if their house produces more electricity than used.
"You are basically selling it back to the electric grid, and they are giving you a credit on your electric bill at the same rate that you would have bought it from them," Kennedy said.
An incentive program called Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) gives homeowners a credit for every 1,000 kilowatts a solar panel system produces. Kennedy added that a house generally generates five to six certificates per year. The certificates can be sold back to the state for a price between $199 to $285 for 10 years.
"You can think of it as sort of a tag or a certificate that distinguishes the electricity that is generated by solar from the electricity that is generated from other energy sources," she said.
Those attending the presentation were able to sign up for the program. The deadline for installation contracts is June 30.
Kennedy added that solar energy offers economic benefits, especially in New England, and the region's amount sunshine isn't an issue in implementing successful solar power.
"I can tell you that projects that are well sited in the state perform consistently," Kennedy said.
Kennedy explained that Germany, which uses the most amount of solar energy in the world, has a poorer solar resource than any part of the United States.
"We have a significantly more sun than Germany, so these projects do work here," she said.
Kennedy reinforced the assertion that solar panel-use benefits Massachusetts because homeowners here have expensive electricity costs. As of 2012, Massachusetts had the ninth highest electricity cost in the country, she said, because New England has to import energy from other parts of the country and does not produce much of its own power.
"Transporting that energy costs money," Kennedy said. "It is anticipated that prices will continue to rise over time."