The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Shoring up Solar in Massachusetts

Massachusetts officials are preparing to take a number of steps to shore up one of the state’s key solar power subsidies, including spending millions of dollars to buy up the credits developers use to help finance their projects.

Solar installations have spread rapidly in Massachusetts over the last year and a half, thanks in large part to a series of state and federal subsidies. Gov. Deval Patrick just last month held a press conference on the solar-paneled roof of a South Boston building to announce that the state had achieved his goal of 250 megawatts of installed solar capacity four years ahead of time. He set a new target of 1,600 megawatts by 2020. 

But the rapid growth of solar power in Massachusetts has flooded the market with one of the special credits developers use to finance their projects, driving down their price and threatening to bring a halt to the industry’s expansion. The Patrick administration is now trying to siphon off some of the excess supply so prices can stabilize.

“There’s an oversupply in the marketplace,” said Dwayne Breger, the state’s director of renewable and alternative energy development. “We’re trying to get the market back into equilibrium.” 

The moves by the Patrick administration are another sign of how dependent solar power is on two subsidies that are ultimately paid for by electric customers across the state. One credit pays solar power generators an inflated price for their electricity. The other credit, called a solar renewable energy credit, or SREC, pays them simply for producing solar electricity. 

For every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a solar developer produces, the developer is issued one SREC. The SREC has value because state regulators require companies that sell electricity in Massachusetts to buy solar credits equal to .27 percent of their electricity sales. The price of the credits fluctuates with supply and demand. In 2010 and 2011, when demand for the credits outstripped supply, the credits were selling for as much as 55 cents a kilowatt hour, more than three times the current retail price of electricity. But as solar production ramped up in 2012, SRECs flooded the market and their price dropped precipitously to around 20 cents a kilowatt hour. 

Starting Friday, regulators plan to start bringing stability to the SREC market by taking three steps. First, companies selling electricity in Massachusetts will be required to increase their SREC purchases to .38 percent of their sales. The state Division of Energy Resources also plans to begin buying up $8 million to $11 million of SRECs. And next month the DOER plans to hold a first-of-its-kind auction with the goal of selling off surplus SRECs at the price of 28.5 cents a kilowatt hour. 

Breger says the goal of the initiatives is to stabilize the market for SRECs so the solar power industry can continue to grow in Massachusetts. “We’re not targeting a certain price” for the SRECs, Breger said. “We’re trying to help the market get back into a supply-demand balance.” 

This story was cross-posted in the Clean Energy Finance Center’s biweekly newsletter, the Clean Energy Finance Source. Subscribe to CommonWealth Magazine to read more Massachusetts-oriented energy stories from MassINC. 

Lead image: Lighthouse via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



Solar to Play ‘Lead Role’ in Vermont RE Standard Compliance

Jennifer Delony New distributed generation solar power facilities of 5 MW or less likely will play a “lead role” in Green Mountain Po...

United PV Turns to Crowdfunding After Stocks in China Plunge

Feifei Shen, Bloomberg United Photovoltaics Group Ltd., a Chinese solar farm operator, said it will use crowdfunding to raise money for its ...

Digging Deeper, Why Renewables are Beating Coal and Gas in Some Parts of the World

Jennifer Runyon Earlier this month Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) announced findings that the LCOE for wind and solar is now che...

Russia Turns to Sun, Wind to Improve Electricity Supply for Country’s Far East

Vladislav Vorotnikov Russian company RAO ES East will construct 178 renewable energy facilities with a total capacity of 146 MW within the...


Solar Power World Ranks Florida Solar One a Top 400 Solar Installer

Florida Solar One, a Miami Fort Lauderdale solar contractor is ranked among the top sol...

Niner Wine Estates Powers 100 Percent of Winery Operations with REC Solar

The 388 KW solar system installed by REC Solar will pay for itself in approximately fiv...

AWS Truepower Makes Wind Project Design More Effective with Less Effort with New Openwind® Version

AWS Truepower, LLC, an international leader in renewable energy consulting and informat...

US Solar Institute Chosen for Military Solar Training at Patrick Air Force Base

In August 2015, the Air Force chose The US Solar Institute (USSI) for a specialized sol...



Geothermal Visual: GEA, Clean Energy Organizations Tell Congress: We Need Tax Extenders 'As Soon As Possible'

In a letter dated Oct. 5, over 580 signatories representing clean energy industries, including Geothermal Energy Asso...

It's All About The Why

Why do people buy your product or service? This is a question that you should keep in your mind at all times and remi...

Tracked Community Solar Gardens Bloom

Victor Delgado and his wife Norma had been watching their utility bills slowly climb since they bought their home in ...


Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth Magazine, the quarterly journal of Massachusetts politics and civic life. Mohl came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business an...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Solar + Storage: Capturing Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges ...

The convergence of solar and energy storage applications is under way. T...

ImagineSolar | Solar PV Project Experience: Advanced 5-day Workshop...

Advanced PV Project Experience at our Solar Field Lab 40 Hour...

PV-401: Field Training

USSolar Institute - Real world on the job solar installation, training, ...


Five Microgrid Powerhouses (Part 2)

Five Microgrid Powerhouses (Part 2)   Last week, we wrote about the...

SimpleGrip: An All New Low-Slope Solution

The crew here at EcoFasten Solar is very excited about th...

It's All About The Why

Why do people buy your product or service? This is a question that you s...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now