New Massachusetts Program A Threat To Local Solar Installers

The altE Store is concerned that a program proposal being considered by the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC), if enacted, will put hundreds of Massachusetts businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The altE Store is concerned that a program proposal being considered by the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC), if enacted, will put hundreds of Massachusetts businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

On Wednesday, February 12th, the Massachusetts EEAC will hold a meeting to approve their priorities and budget for the year. As it stands the new budget is poised to effectively lock out independent Massachusetts installers from incentives for battery-based solar projects connected to the electrical grid. Instead, it provides those incentives to five national companies doing business in Massachusetts. It is our understanding that the proposed budget does not include any funds to add more "Battery Implementers" into the program in 2020.

The incentives program is referred to in EEAC meeting notes as the Daily Dispatch Battery program. This program is designed to help Massachusetts utilities meet peak energy demand, by using energy stored in home-owner battery systems connected to the electrical grid. In exchange, homeowners would receive incentives up to 50% of the material and installation cost of the battery-based system.

Overall this is a great program, avoiding the need for power plants that would only be useful during peak summer demands. It is being driven by the utility Program Administrators as part of the MassSave program, which helps energy efficiency and optimize utilization of the power grid. Vermont, California, and other states are enacting similar programs.

What makes this new program so devastating to Massachusetts businesses is the exclusion of smaller regional solar power installers from the program. Individually, they do not have the volume to purchase directly from the vendors included in the program. These smaller companies depend on distributors, like altE, to supply them with equipment from a wider variety of vendors. Furthermore two of the five approved companies are themselves installers and receive extremely valuable promotion from the program websites. See the National Grid program description for details: Connected Solutions Battery Program.

The Mass solar loan program encouraged Massachusetts homeowners to choose from any number of qualified solar installers. In stark contrast, this new program drives business to five of the biggest companies in the industry, effectively routing millions of incentive dollars to these national companies while putting smaller, Massachusetts-based independent solar companies at a competitive disadvantage, limiting their growth potential.

The exclusive market access granted to these select companies is due to budgetary constraints of the MA EEAC and its utility partners, to the detriment of Massachusetts rate payers and small business owners across the state. They will not be able to take advantage of innovative solutions from other companies that offer commercial and technical advantages. Limiting consumer choice will only lead to fewer options, higher prices, and longer wait times for service.

The utility companies use an intermediary to manage interconnects between the homes and the power grid. This company, EnergyHub, has been selected to be the sole source of the Daily Dispatch Battery program. The key technical requirement here is that the equipment (called an Inverter) be able to connect to the EnergyHub system. This connection should be open to any qualified Inverter company. Massachusetts-based independent solar power installers should be able to participate, including the smaller independent companies that have been providing solutions to state residents for more than 20 years.

The altE Store will have representatives at the MA EEAC meeting today to voice its concerns. We encourage the media to help inform the public about these behind-the-scene decisions, and encourage broader participation for Massachusetts installers and related renewable energy companies.

About altE Store

Founded in 1999, altE, Inc. has catered to customers on every continent of the globe. altE fulfills its motto, "Making Renewable Do-able," by offering cost-competitive, high-quality renewable energy products and educational services to a broad spectrum of the public, wholesalers, and professional solar installers. altE's headquarters is located at 330 Codman Hill Road in Boxborough, Massachusetts. For more information visit their website at or contact Toll Free (877) 878-4060.

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