Today, Massachusetts trails only five states – California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina and Nevada – in total installed solar capacity, according to the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight Report compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite a strong first quarter, industry leaders are warning that future solar growth in Massachusetts is being jeopardized because net energy metering (NEM) caps have been reached in many areas of the state. These caps have been hit because of the exploding popularity of solar - evidenced by a 150 percent increase in new solar capacity in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same quarter a year ago.
Today, Massachusetts trails only five states - California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina and Nevada - in total installed solar capacity, according to the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight Report compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
"Massachusetts has had two consecutive years of explosive solar growth, and that trend continued in the first quarter of this year. That's not a coincidence," said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. "Smart public policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and net energy metering (NEM) are providing a tremendous boost to the state's economy, creating thousands of new jobs and generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic activity. But because of faster-than-expected growth, we're already starting to hit NEM caps, which is beginning to have a chilling effect on planned solar projects, threatening existing jobs, as well as the ability to create new jobs. As an industry, we strongly urge the legislature to raise the NEM caps as soon as possible."
Resch said current policies are producing impressive results. Powered by a booming residential market, Massachusetts added 55 megawatts (MW) of new solar capacity in Q1, bringing its statewide total to 806 MW - enough to power more than 131,000 homes.
The report went on to point out that Massachusetts had increases in Q1 across all solar sectors, with installed residential and commercial system prices dropping 4 percent in the last year - and down nearly 50 percent since 2010. All totaled, $145 million was invested in Massachusetts in the first quarter in new solar installations - and nearly $1 billion since the beginning of 2014.
"Because of the strong demand for solar energy, thousands of new, good-paying jobs have been added in Massachusetts, benefitting the state's economy and environment," Resch said. "To put Massachusetts' remarkable progress in some context, the 806 MW of solar installed in the state today is nearly 60 percent more than the entire country had in 2004. Unfortunately, this growth - and the jobs which it's creating - is now in serious jeopardy."
Highlighting what's at stake, Resch said there are 377 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Massachusetts, employing more than 9,400 people, representing manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers. What's more, from an environmental perspective, solar installations in Massachusetts are helping to offset more than 700,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 150,000 cars off the state's roads and highways.