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Solar

MLP Solar Rebate Program

The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has partnered with the Massachusetts Municipal Electric Cooperative (MMWEC) and Energy New England (ENE), to offer a rebate program for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems in certain Municipal Light Plant (MLP) service territories.  DOER and the participating MLPs will offer rebates of $1.20 per watt, up to 50% of system costs, on installations of 25 kW DC of less.  DOER and the participating MLPs will each provide half of the funding for these rebates. DOER has committed $2.3 million to this program to date.

System owners must work with a primary installer/integrator to complete and submit the MLP Solar Program application, linked below. To be eligible for a rebate, system owners and applicants must follow all application procedures and systems must meet the technical specifications, which are listed in the Program Manual, linked below.  Potential applicants should contact their MLP or Program Administrator for information on available funding.

Please direct any questions on this program to DOER at DOER.MLPSolar@mass.gov

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

  • Applicant's electric account must be in good standing
  • Applicant must be either the installer or property owner
  • The solar panels must be installed by a professional, licensed contractor
  • The solar project must meet technical, installation, and equipment requirements outlined in the Program Manual
  • The DOER caps projects at 25 kW, but your MLP may have a smaller size restriction
  • Be interconnected to a participating MLP’s distribution system
  • Cannot have received a Statement of Qualification under the Solar Carve-out II Program
  • Interconnections must use a Locus Production Meter

Energy New England is the Program Administrator for the following MLPs.

  1. Belmont
  2. Berkley
  3. Boxborough
  4. Braintree
  5. Concord
  6. Danvers
  7. Dighton
  8. Georgetown
  9. Groveland
  10. Hingham
  11. Hudson
  12. Lakeville
  13. Littleton
  14. Lynnfield
  15. Merrimac
  16. Middleborough
  17. Middleton
  18. North Attleboro
  19. North Reading
  20. Norwood
  21. Raynham
  22. Reading
  23. Rowley
  24. Stow
  25. Taunton
  26. Wellesley
  27. Westfield
  28. Wilmington

REBATES

The rebates are based on the size of the PV project, which may not exceed 25 kW (25,000 watts DC @ STC). The total rebate covers up to 50% of the project cost at $1.20 per Watt of PV capacity of the project.

DOER GRANT FUNDS

DOER grant funds will be available until either the funds run out or until the end of the second calendar quarter of 2020, whichever is sooner.

Participants in the MLP Solar Program may apply for loans through Mass Solar Loan, run by MassCEC, and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources that connects homeowners with low-interest loans for residential solar projects.

Getting Started

Below you’ll find a collection of frequently asked questions to further help you as you explore adding solar electricity to your home.

Is my roof suitable for solar?
Your solar installer can help you get your roof assessed, but it’s your responsibility to decide if your roof is appropriate for solar panels. Solar panels work best on roofs with plenty of space and access to direct sun throughout the day. The age and condition of your roof is a factor. Your installer may employ an engineer to determine if your roof needs repairs before the solar system can be installed. If your roof is near the end of its life, you might need to consider replacing it prior to installation.

How long does it take to install a solar electric system?
In Massachusetts, the average timeline is five months from contract signing to electricity generation for residential projects. However, there are a number of factors that are likely to lengthen the process like installer availibility, the number of other applicants in line for approval, the accuracy and completness of your solar application itself, and weather. This program is going to be popular, and your installer will complete and sumbit your application. You can assist in the submittal process by monitoring your installer’s progress, help collect documents, and double-check the application for accuracy before it’s submitted. Upon approval, the physical installation process can take as little as a few days. Post-installation will be followed by at least several weeks, or potentially months, to begin generating electricity due to your town’s and its MLP’s connection timelines. 

What questions should I ask a potential installer?
This is a buyer beware program. The most important step is to educate yourself about the process. Information about how to find and select a solar installer can be found in the Finding an Installer section of this guide, as well as in the MassCEC Residential Guide to Solar Electricity.

How much electricity will my system generate?

Output depends on many factors: system size, site-specific characteristics like  amount of shading, angle of the panels and orientation of the roof, and other factors like annual weather patterns. For system size, a conservative equation to estimate output is 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity annually for every one kilowatt of system size. The average residential system in Massachusetts is 8 kilowatts and produces about 8,800 kilowatts of electricity each year. To compare your kWh consumption with potential output, consult your electric bill or MLP directly to determine your average annual, monthly, and/or daily usage. To view cost and performance data from solar installations across Massachusetts since 2001, consult MassCEC’s solar Cost & Performance page. The map tool enables you to filter and analyze solar porjects by location, system size, installer, and median system cost per watt. If you’re comfortable working with data, download the SREC Capacity Factor Analysis.

Will adding solar electricity impact my property value?
There have been zero Massachusetts-specific studies completed. Howerver, the acclaimed Lawrence Berkley National Lab (LBNL), which conducts research for the U.S. Department of Energy has published several studies demonstrating that solar electric systems have increased the value of homes across the country. 

Should I get an energy audit and adopt energy efficiency measures before installing solar?
Yes. Making your home or business more energy efficient is often the easiest way to save money on your energy bills. Adopting energy efficiency measures can also save you money on your solar system, as you might be able use a smaller system to cover your energy needs. ENE offers free Home Energy Assessments on behalf of your MLP. Sign up to get started.

Is solar electricity feasible for a condo?
Many of the same conditions that make a home or business a good candidate for solar apply to condominiums. Condo owners will also likely need to get approval from their condo association before installing a system. For more information, check out the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resource’s Solar Guide for Condominium Owners and Associations.

What maintenance does a solar electric system need?
Most systems have an expected system life of more than 20 years. As with many appliances, solar electric systems require some maintenance over their lifetime. This may include tree trimming to ensure panels receive unobstructed sunlight, and, for central inverters, a one-time replacement during the life of the project. Installers should provide a minimum five-year labor warranty to protect your equipment against defective workmanship, component breakdown, or significant degradation in electrical output. In addition, the solar electric equipment should have appropriate manufacturers’ warranties. Although it is uncommon for a solar PV panel or inverter to stop functioning while under warranty, talk to your installer about their policies for equipment replacement, including whether or not labor costs are included.

Can I install the system myself?
For a solar electric system to be eligible for the DOER MLP Solar Program, the electrical work must be completed by a Massachusetts-licensed electrician. Please see the Board of State Examiners of Electricians guidance regarding what is considered electrical work. The individual or organization installing the solar system must also be licensed to conduct business in Massachusetts to be eligible for DOER incentives.

The facility owner must directly purchase or take out a loan for the project in order to qualify for the rebate. Solar leasing and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) projects do not qualify for this program.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Solar Cost Comparison Tool can help you understand what other homeowners in Massachusetts have paid for similar systems in your area.

The MLP Solar Program Process Checklist outlines the steps in order to qualify for the rebate.

Please be sure to review the DOER MLP Solar Rebate Program Manual and DOER technical requirements. The process typically takes up to three months from your MLP’s receipt of the completed application package until the rebate is issued, but can vary based on project specifics.

Program Requirements:

  • The applicant must be the property owner.
  • The project site must be within a paricipating MLP’s service area.
  • The solar panels must be installed by a professional, licensed contractor.
  • The DOER caps projects at 25 kW, but your MLP may have a smaller size restriction.
  • The solar project must meet technical, installation, and equipment requirements outlined in the program manual. 
  • All installations must use a Locus Production Meter. 

Once you have determined that installing solar panels makes sense, you will need to select a licensed solar contractor. Get advice to help you make an educated choice and use the Contractor Bid Comparison Form to evaluate your options.

Tips for choosing the right solar contractor:

  • Request at least three detailed estimates from licensed contractors. Prices and project components (such as maintenance warranties) can vary significantly. Be sure to request that the system design addresses your specific goals.
  • Only hire a licensed contractor. Verify that installers are properly licensed by checking the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Registry and eLicensing Portal.
  • Make sure your contractor is bonded and insured. You need to understand the limits on your contractor’s bonding and insurance to make sure you are sufficiently protected.
  • Request at least three references from prospective contractors for projects similar to yours. If possible, you should also try to visit some of the recently completed projects. Ask relevant, longtime service providers such as your electrician contractor for referrals.
  • Require your contractor to put all project expectation in writing. This will enable you to better protect your investment. IF the expectations change during the completion of the project, these changes should also be captured in writing.
  • Read all documentation carefully before you sign. It is important that you understand everything that you are agreeing to so that there are no questions later.
    The additional links below also include directories and contact information for installers that work in the Commonwealth.

Once selected, your contractor will help you complete and submit all necessary paperwork, including the MLP Solar Program Application.

You will need to complete the required paperwork to both interconnect to the local electric distribution system and for the rebate program.

You will need to complete the following list of paperwork and submit it to your MLP, as instructed on the Residential Solar Program application.

Documents needed to apply for rebate:

  1. Utility solar application, and documents required by the utility
  2. MLP Solar Program Rebate Application Form
  3. Participants Agreement
  4. Proof of property ownership (deed, recent tax bill) 
  5. Copy of Contractor/Homeowner Agreement
  6. Shading analysis (See section 7 of the DOER’s Program Manual for approved software.)

Upon approval, you will receive a Rebate Reservation Notification and installation can begin.  

Visit your MLP’s website for additional program requirements and restrictions.

After construction and interconnection of your solar project, you must submit the following documents: 

  1. Certificate of Completion
  2. Project Completion form (provided by DOER upon reservation reward)
  3. Evidence of MLP authorization to interconnect and permission to operate. 
  4. Locus Meter Connection Form (Evidence that Locus Production Meter has been installed and is communicating.) 
  5. Invoice from installer
  6. Change request form, if applicable. (Provided by DOER with Reservation Award.)

Technical Requirements

These requirements are not intended to be all-encompassing, nor to be a substitute for engineering specifications or for safety requirements. Site-specific conditions and/or local regulations may require additional requirements not contained hereto.  DOER reserves the right to withhold payment to any project that does not satisfy the Minimum Technical Requirements.

Minimum Design and Estimated Production Requirements

The system must be designed to meet the following specifications:

  • Have an azimuth between 90 and 270 degrees
  • Demonstrate that its expected output will be reduced by no more than 20% due to shading
Installation Requirements

The PV project electrical work must be performed by a Massachusetts- licensed electrician.

The PV project must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in compliance with all applicable codes and standards including:

  • Local, state, and/or federal building and electrical laws, codes and practices.
  • All pertinent permits and inspections must be obtained, and copies kept on file as may be required by local codes and/or state law.
Additional Solar PV Equipment Requirements

The equipment and components that comprise the PV project must have the following characteristics:

  • All electrical equipment funded in part or in whole under this program must be new.
  • Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed and compliant with Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards, or other nationally recognized testing laboratory standards (e.g. CSA, ETL, TUV, etc).
    • All photovoltaic modules must be certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory as meeting the requirements of the UL Standard 1703.
    • Inverters must be certified as meeting the requirements of IEEE 1547 and UL Standard 1741 SA.
  • Exceptions:
    • Reconditioned meters recertified to meet accuracy standards.
    • UL is not required, but is recommended, for PV projects operating at less than 30 volts.

Energy New England will be requiring that all systems use Locus Production Meter and Data Acquisition Service (DAS). Also Energy Inc. has provided pricing based on estimated quantities of this program. In addition, you must pay for 10 years of monitoring/cell service up front directly to Locus.

Contact Amy Atwood at amy.atwood@alsoenergy.com or Jeff Muench at jeff.muench@alsoenergy.com and request a quote for the LGate-Cat M1. Provide quantity and shipping address.

ORDER:

LGate-Cat M1-ENE

  • 10 Years of Revenue Grade PV Production Monitoring
  • 10 Years of 4G LTE Cellular Connectivity
ITEM #DESCRIPTIONPRICE
R-LGate-CatM1UL Single-Phase Electronic Socket Meter$240.00
R-PDM-10YRLocus – Software – Residential PV Production Monitoring 10 Years$300.00
R-CPLAN-LTE-PWS-1MB-10 YRLocus – Cellular Plan – 1Mb/month from Premier Wireless – 10 Years$150.00
TOTAL $690.00*

*Pricing does not include tax and shipping. Estimated total with $33.75 tax is $723.75.

AlsoEnergy
5400 Airport Blvd, Suite 100
Boulder, CO 80301-239

Who is eligible for this program?
Customers of the participating MLPs that own the property/project site.

When does the program start and end?
Projects must have an operation date of November 27, 2018 or later. Projects that were interconnected before this date are not elligible. The MLP Solar Rebate Program ends when available funding runs out or June 30, 2020, whichever comes sooner.

Can I apply to the program if I’ve already completed a solar project?
It depends. If your project meets all requirements, your project will be eligible for a rebate

What properties/sites are eligible for PV projects?

  1. The property/site’s shading must be less than 20%.
  2. It must have an azimuth between 90 and 270 degrees.

How can I assess my property for shading and azimuth requirements?
Many contractors provide free site assessments.

What are the PV system’s requirements?
Your system can be equal to or less than 25 kW DC. However, your MLP’s size restrictions will overrule the DOER’s, so check local size restrictions first. 

Can I receive a rebate if I add on to a previous system?
Yes, as long as the addition meets all requirements and the combined size of the new and old PV does not exceed the 25 kW size limit. For example, if you have an existing 10 kW DC system, your new project must not exceed 15 kW DC, because 10 +15 = 25. The new system will also need to be separately metered from any existing systems to ensure appropriate reporting of the rebated system’s output. 

How much of a rebate can I get?
The rebate amount is $1.20 per watt of PV capacity of the project, not to exceed  50% project cost.

Who completes my application?
Your installer will assist you in completing your application. You will be responsible for providing the contractor with documents, securing inspections and appointments, and communicating with your MLP and any relevent town departments to complete your application.

How will the DOER communicate with me?
Program communication is electronic (email) only. No paper communications will be accepted. You must provide a valid email address.

What if I don’t have access to email?
You may designate a contact person to receive communications from DOER, your MLP, and ENE, the program administrators.

Should I submit my application if I have most of the forms completed?

  1. Submitting partially complete applications – anywhere in the process – will delay your application significantly. Do not submit your application with missing documents, incomplete, or illegible information. Applications that are missing paperwork or documents that are missing information will lose their place in the processing line and will be placed in the back of the line upon re-entry. 

Will I get a rebate if I start work on the project before I get an award from the state (DOER)?
All work completed before the DOER sends you an Award Reservation Letter is at your own risk. A complete application with the correct system requirements could be rejected because funding has been spent. 

When is a project considered complete?
Technically, your project is considered complete when the DOER reviews and approves the Project Completion Form and accompanying documentation. The following must be complete:

  • Installation and interconnection
  • An invoice from the installer
  • Post-install inspections required by town and/or MLP
  • Letter of Approval from MLP and permission to operate
  • Project is operational

Is there a deadline for approved project to be completed?
Yes. You have one (1) year to complete the project once the DOER approves it. Remember, in order for the DOER to approve your project, you will already have a signed contract with an installer and all the necessary local permits. Physical installation of PV panels should take only a few days. One year should be plenty of time to install the panels and obtain the necessary follow-up documents.

What if I can’t find an installer? What if I can’t find someone to assess my property?
There are many installers throughout Massachusetts. Visit MassCEC’s website to find a licensed contractor.

Can I lease a system?
No, to be eligible for the rebate you must own the system. However, you may get financial assistance with a loan through MassCEC.

Are there any loans available for the part of the system that isn’t rebated?
Residents can get loan assistance from MassCEC.

What are the tax benefits to having solar installed?
Find information about the federal tax credits for solar PV installations and state tax credits.

Is the rebate taxable? 
No.

Will I receive Solar Renewable Energy Credits (RECS)?
No. In order to receive the rebate, system owners must agree to sign over their Solar REC’s to their MLP. The MLP Solar Program Application provides the authorization to do so.

What if I have questions during the process?

You can contact ENE at solar@ene.org or call 888-772-4242.

To contact DOER, email MLPsolar@mass.gov.

For more information please contact Energy New England, the MLP program Administrator, at solar@ene.org or call 888-772-4242.

Energy New England

  • 5 Hampshire St., Suite 100
    Mansfield, MA 02048
  • 508-698-1200
  • 508-698-0222

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