Should Commercial Businesses Invest in Massachusetts Solar?

If you’ve been thinking about solar energy for your Massachusetts business, the time to act is now.  Investing in solar energy can offer immediate savings, high ROI, and long-term economic benefits to any organization. By installing solar panels on company property, business owners are essentially purchasing decades’ worth of electricity at a low, fixed rate. Here’s what you need to know about getting on board with Massachusetts solar and why Mass. businesses are integrating solar into their energy procurement mix and sustainability strategy.

The benefits of solar include:

  • Solar is a sustainable form of renewable energy
  • Solar helps your company reduce its carbon footprint and meet its sustainability goals—something that many consumers value
  • Investing in solar helps your business increase its energy independence through energy diversification—minimizing reliance on fossil fuels and the grid
  • Investing in solar helps your business increase its energy independence through energy diversification—minimizing reliance on fossil fuels and the grid
  • Solar can reduce monthly electric spend, shave peak usage and also offset demand charges
  • There are several regional and time-sensitive solar programs available—check with your energy consultant to make the most of solar incentives in your area

Leveraging the Massachusetts Solar Program for your business

Massachusetts businesses have an opportunity to participate in the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program which offers participants fixed, long-term electricity prices over a 10 or 20 year period, depending on system size. SMART was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), in conjunction with participating electric utilities. This long-term, state-wide, sustainable solar incentive program is designed to encourage the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and position Massachusetts as the most energy-efficient state in the nation.

The program provides monthly financial incentives in the form of a 26% Federal Investment Tax Credit (in 2020) for Massachusetts businesses and homeowners who purchase and install a solar electric system. Through the program, Massachusetts businesses can receive thousands of dollars in incentives for their solar systems, paid out over time in monthly increments. How much you receive will depend on how much electricity you produce, the size of your solar system, and various performance factors that are unique to each property – such as the amount of shade and peak sunlight hours.

SMART Solar Massachusetts Solar Community Solar

Are there upfront costs for solar installation?

You may choose to purchase your solar system outright, in which case payments will be due by certain milestones set in your contract. Payment timing and the percentage will vary by provider but typically involves a deposit upfront then incremental payments throughout the installation and construction phase.

If you don’t have the budget for purchase and installation, or you would like to leverage a third-party investor’s capital, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is an excellent option. With a PPA, there are no upfront costs or ownership responsibilities. A PPA provides electricity at a lower cost than current electricity rates as well as future price certainty.

Here’s how it works. A PPA is similar to a solar lease in that the solar panels remain owned by the solar company, rather than the business owner, during the term of the contract. The solar equipment is installed at no cost to you, and you are not responsible for the operation or maintenance. With a PPA, there is no fixed monthly fee; you only pay for kWh (kilowatt hours) of power produced by the solar panels, which is less than that average cost per kWh that would be paid to a utility company. IN other words, you start saving money as soon as your system is operational.

Why businesses should invest in Massachusetts solar now:

Now is the best time to invest in Massachusetts solar programs for maximum financial benefits, because solar is a clean, green, and well-understood source of energy with a long operating life (greater than 25 years). Plus:

  1. Solar system prices are at an all-time low right now
  2. Because of the MA SMART program, PPAs are widely available and economically beneficial
  3. The Federal Investment Tax Credit, which drives PPA pricing, is declining. The sooner you act, the better

To get the largest available credit from the MA SMART Program, you should act now. The Federal Investment Tax Credit is being phased down over the next few years. When the program began in 2019, the credit was 30%, and that amount is phased down over time to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% for 2022 and beyond for commercial customers. So the sooner you act, the more you save.

Is my business a good candidate for solar?

Solar energy can deliver significantly lower electricity bills, stabilize your budget, increase the ROI on your business, and can help offset fluctuating energy costs. Plus, participating in the SMART program delivers even more financial benefits over the long term.

If you want to start enjoying the benefits of solar, but you’re not sure whether your business is a good candidate for solar or how to get started, Usource energy analysts and solar experts are here to help.

As part of the NextEra Energy family of companies, the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy, Usource is uniquely positioned to analyze and evaluate a solar energy project for your business. We’ll start by discussing your energy needs and budget, and then we’ll evaluate your property for solar installation to ensure that solar is both a cohesive and cost-efficient solution in your overall energy strategy. We can be your dedicated solar advisor and advocate. We’ll help you select a single installer or initiate a bidding process. By issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP), we’ll invite providers to bid on the project, then we will review installation proposals from multiple vendors together, so you can select the most favorable contract for your organization.

Whether you choose to take advantage of solar energy or you are thinking about traditional energy procurement, Usource’s energy analysts can help you develop a comprehensive energy strategy to increase your business’s profitability, manage risk, improve energy efficiency and understand how to meet both your business and sustainability goals.

Our energy analysts and solar experts are here to answer your questions, understand your goals, and streamline your path to integrating solar energy into your overall energy strategy. Ready to get started?

Request a Free Consultation

Click here to learn more about our approach to strategic energy planning.

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About the author

Steve Birndorf

Steve has more than 20 years of professional experience and is a seasoned energy and clean-tech executive with a foundation in consulting and analysis. He has developed, financed and advised on commercial and industrial solar projects for private and agricultural businesses, municipalities, schools, water agencies and more.

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