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Solar Panels in Massachusetts: Cost and Savings

Massachusetts is in the top 10 best states for solar panels, and the state reached 8th in the country in 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, in place since 2018, has also helped the state increase its solar energy use.  

Residents of Massachusetts may ask, “Is solar worth it?” and the incentives, independence, and sustainability all answer with a resounding yes. As more people convert to residential solar power, the prices are going down, and the available options are going up. Read on to learn about Massachusetts solar incentives.

Cost of solar panels in Massachusetts

On average, a solar panel system will cost $3-$5 per watt; however, these prices can vary depending on location. For example, if you are in a metro area such as Boston, solar panel installations may be more expensive. 

When thinking about the cost of solar panels, you also need to factor in other components besides the solar cells. Other elements you may need include:

  • a battery backup system to save extra solar power.
  • a solar panel inverter to make the electricity usable for your home’s electric system. 

A residential solar panel roof will typically cost between $15,000 to $25,000, but this upfront cost doesn’t have to scare you. Homeowners have several options for paying for solar installations, including financing, leasing solar panels, or signing up for a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). In a solar PPA, a company will retain ownership of the panels and place them on your roof, and you’ll pay a set rate each month for the sustainable, green electricity produced on your own roof.

Solar incentives and rebates in Massachusetts

Another way to offset initial solar panel costs is through federal and state incentives. Massachusetts has several financial perks available to anyone in the state, such as:

  • State solar credit: Get a 15% state solar credit for home solar systems purchased in Massachusetts.
  • SMART program: This program pays you a small amount for every kilowatt-hour you produce with your solar system.
  • Property tax exemption: Solar panels can increase your home value, so MA offers a property tax exemption to defray homeowners’ costs. 
  • Sales tax exemption: Solar panels in MA are exempt from state sales tax. 
  • Low-cost financing: Financing is available if you are a low-income earner and want to buy solar panels for your home with a loan.
  • Federal solar investment tax credit (ITC): The ITC offers a 26% federal tax credit through 2022.

Solar energy in Massachusetts may help lower your electric bills 

Massachusetts electricity rates in 2021 average around 18.5 cents per kWh. One of the ways we calculate the savings you gain from solar panels is to estimate annual electric bills and then see how long it would take to pay back that cost. 

For example, many MA residential customers use about 500 kWh a month. At the rate of 18.5 cents per kWh, an average monthly bill would be $92.50, or an annual cost of about $1110. If your solar panel system costs $15,000 at the outset, you would earn the full return on your investment (ROI) in 13.5 years (i.e. 15,000/1110 = 13.5). Since solar panels last for 25-30 years, all the energy after roughly 13.5 years will be a return on your initial investment (ROI).

Here’s an example of that payback scenario in table form, but remember, your specific cost/benefit scenario will depend on how much your total solar system costs and your typical monthly energy bill.

Energy independence in Massachusetts can help you

Energy independence in Massachusetts means you don’t depend on a company for your electricity. If large winter storms cause a power outage, a home with conventional power may wait hours or days for electricity. Homes with solar panels and battery backup systems can manage their electricity and often experience no loss of power.

How to buy solar panels in Massachusetts 

Solar panels are an established source of energy in Massachusetts, meaning that even if there aren’t many rooftop solar panels in your neighborhood, solar farms are still likely contributing to your home’s electricity mix. If you’ve been considering solar panels for your home, there are a few steps to think through first, such as:

  • Does your HOA have any special considerations, such as how visible the solar panels can be from the road?
  • Are you planning on living in this house for long enough to make the financial investment worthwhile?
  • How much sun does your home receive, and are there any natural barriers, such as large trees, that could impact your home’s solar production?
  • Are there any other homes in your area that have solar panels that have sold recently? Can you do a little market analysis to see what kind of premium your home will achieve for having a solar panel array?

The future of energy is solar in Massachusetts 

Renewable energy are energy resources that can be replenished. Non-renewables, like fossil fuels, will get more expensive as we tap the existing resources over time because their amount is finite. Solar power from the sun, on the other hand, is with us forever. 

Green energy is not the same as renewable energy, even though these terms are often used interchangeably. Green energy emphasizes the lack of pollutants and extra carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. Luckily, solar energy is green energy since it is a virtually emissions-free energy source. Solar power is the way to go for both consistently renewable and green energy, and it avoids changing the atmosphere’s composition. 

The state of Massachusetts has already realized how much potential exists in solar energy. Nearly a fifth of the state’s energy comes from solar. You can join in on the benefits of solar in Massachusetts with solar panels for your home.

Solar energy FAQs

Do solar panels save you money in Massachusetts?

The state of Massachusetts and the federal government offer many incentives that can save you a lot of money on solar panels. Plus, prices of solar panels have fallen 43% in the past five years.

What is the life expectancy of solar panels in Massachusetts?

Solar panels should last 25-30 years in Massachusetts, yielding substantial free energy after their payback period.

How does solar power help the environment?

Solar panels don’t emit any carbon dioxide or other pollutants, leaving the atmosphere at its standard composition. Not having to mine coal or drill for oil also benefits the environment and doesn’t disturb the natural habitats of animals and plants.

What percent of Massachusetts energy production is solar?

At last count, Massachusetts was producing 18.5% of its electricity via solar energy, which is nearly a third of the electricity in the state!