Get Smart about SMART: New Solar Incentives in Massachusetts

November 14, 2018

By Anna Mannello //

A new solar incentive program is launching in Massachusetts, and we’re here to walk you through some of the most common questions we’ve received about this new program, called SMART. Long story short- it is a great time to go solar!

What is SMART?

Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target, or SMART, is a solar incentive program developed by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) to compensate new solar electric systems installed in the Commonwealth. The energy generated by your solar system will both save money on your electric bill and earn you additional incentive payments for making clean energy, every month over the next 10 or 20 years (depending on your system size). The SMART program is replacing the SREC program and is designed for 1600 MW of new solar generation in Massachusetts.

When does the new SMART incentive begin?

The transition to SMART goes into effect on Monday, November 26th, 2018.

How does SMART work?

SMART is designed with a declining “block” incentive structure. Once a block is full, the next wave of solar projects will be qualified for SMART under the following block with a different (lower) fixed rate. These blocks are distributed among the participating utilities (Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil) and vary in size across the utilities. The pace that blocks fill is entirely dependent on the amount of solar projects qualifying for SMART under each utility. For example, Eversource might be in block 1, while National Grid and Unitil may have already moved on to block 2.

With the declining block structure, this means that the earlier you go solar under SMART, the more money you will make in the long run.

What are the details of the SMART program?
  • You will receive monthly SMART payments for your production, either via check or electronic funds transfer.
  • SMART compensation rates are fixed, rather than fluctuating based on the market. This means that with SMART, the compensation rate per kWh assigned at the beginning of your project will stay the same for the duration of the SMART program participation (typically 10 years for residential projects and 20 years for commercial). This makes your payments predictable and could help you effectively plan your monthly budgeting.
  • In order to participate in the SMART incentive program, you need to work with a Certified Solar Installer (like PV Squared!) This is because installers must submit applications on behalf of system owners to secure a spot in the program.
  • SMART program qualification occurs prior to project installation.
  • The SMART program includes a compensation rate adder for battery storage when paired with a new solar PV project, at the same site that also qualified for the SMART program.
  • While customers of municipally-owned utilities (MLPs) are not eligible for participation in the SMART program, the MA DOER is actively working with MLPs to establish a separate program that would provide solar incentives to residential and small commercial customers in MLP territories that opt into the separate program.
Is it a good time to go solar?

Yes! Massachusetts is one of the best states for solar energy and it is always a great time to go solar. Solar continues to pay for itself under the new SMART incentive program- it’s the next evolution of support from the Commonwealth for solar PV installations.

PV Squared was founded in 2002, so we’ve experienced many policy changes over the last 16 years. We’re adaptable, prepared, and informed- and we’re ready to help you make the transition to solar energy under the SMART incentive. If you have any questions about SMART or solar in general, please give us a call at 413-772-8788 or send us an email at pooc.1545185836derau1545185836qsvp@1545185836ofni1545185836.

If you’re interested in reading about SMART in more depth, check out these websites-

http://masmartsolar.com/

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/solar-massachusetts-renewable-target-smart-program