Friday, August 17, 2012

Solar Power and Massachusetts: A Great Fit

New Jersey solar installations currently generate the most electricity output among East Coast states, but Massachusetts is quickly rising.

Massachusetts may not seem as ideal a location as warm weather states like California and Arizona for solar electric power. However, it receives more sunlight than many might think. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the state on average receives enough sunlight per day to provide sufficient electric power for more 1,000 homes via 100,000 square feet of solar panels.

Massachusetts right now generates 118 megawatts of solar power, but has many incentives in place to up that number.

The state offers multiple financial incentives to encourage solar photovoltaic panel installation. In particular, the state has three main tax exemptions in place to encourage residents to turn to solar energy.

When Massachusetts homeowners buy a new solar photovoltaic power system, they usually qualify for a 15 percent income tax credit for reimbursement, totaling up to $1000.

On top of the income tax credit, most solar power equipment is exempt from sales tax. Plus, a number of towns and municipalities in Massachusetts offer property tax exemptions for the value a solar photovoltaic system adds to a home.

To top it all off, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Commonwealth Solar II program provides for direct rebates for the installation of solar-powered electricity producing systems. As of July 10, the program had more than $1.3 million left to disperse for solar energy initiatives.

National Solar Power Incentives
Even beyond Massachusetts-specific solar power incentives, there are other reasons why state residents should consider solar electric power and solar water heating.

In addition to the Massachusetts-specific tax incentives, the federal government has established a 30 percent tax credit for residential solar installations. That tax credit lasts for eight years after the installation.

Plus, solar panels help to increase a home's market value. Homes with solar power installations sell for up to twice as much as conventionally powered homes, according to the Department of Energy.

Also, the power source needed for solar hot water and solar electrical systems is free. Overall, solar energy can help reduce heating and electricity bills by more then 50 percent in some communities, according to the Energy Department.

The tax credits at the state and federal level help to decrease initial costs, and the price of solar panels has dropped over the past five years. According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, the cost of a residential solar power installation went down by about 7 percent over the past year. Non-residential installation costs decreased by about 11 percent of that same period, according to the report.


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