Massachusetts has a couple of solar power projects up its sleeve for 2010. The goal is to increase the number of solar power installations within the state. This might be one of Gov. Deval Patrick’s tactics to get votes in the coming election year, and it was also his pledge to make the commonwealth into one of the country’s renewable energy leaders.
Massachusetts has managed to increase the number of solar panels in the past years. Its Commonwealth Solar program has already awarded 1270 rebates for residential, municipal and commercial solar projects.
Even with that number of solar power rebates, the amount of energy produced is just enough to power 3200 homes a year. Massachusetts still has a long way to go in its effort to depart from fossil fuels into renewable energy.
At present, solar power installations generate 22.3 megawatts of power annually. That number could double by the end of 2010 if the commonwealth’s plans are successful. Several federal stimulus-funded solar projects are set to be installed on water treatment plants and other public buildings.
The Commonwealth Solar program will be extended in 2010. This program gives out rebates to small businesses and homeowners who installed solar panels on their property. Commonwealth Solar II will still reward commercial and residential solar installations of five kilowatts or less. This will be funded by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. Electric utility customers subsidize the trust by paying a small amount each month.
Another program that will be launched in 2010 is the Commonwealth Solar Stimulus, which will rely on the $8 million in federal stimulus funds that is set aside to help companies install large solar arrays that are aimed to produce more than five kilowatts. Connecticut and Maryland also have similar programs.
A third program is still in the works that will create a new solar credit market. The program is in accordance with Massachusetts’ 2008 Green Communities Act to provide a predictable market support for the solar power industry.
Gov. Patrick has a goal of 250 megawatts generated through solar energy by 2017. That amount can be used to power at least 37,500 homes. The governor is also positive that this will create more green jobs in the state. The number of solar contractors in the state has already mushroomed to about 200, up from only 50 in 2008.
For more information about Massachusetts Solar programs, you can visit their web site at www.mass.gov/eea.