This spring, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that the state was halfway towards reaching its ambitious goal of adding 1,600 megawatts of solar power to the state’s grid by the year 2020. That’s enough solar energy to power almost 120,000 homes.
So how did Massachusetts solar companies install solar panels on so many homes? In 2014, workers installed more than 300 megawatts of solar capacity, making the state the fourth largest solar energy generator in the country that year. And according to the Solar Foundation, 2015 has seen a 20% increase in employment in the solar sector so far. Already, almost 174,000 workers are employed in the industry nationwide.
Plus, local politicians are fighting to help get more Massachusetts solar panels installed on homes and businesses around the region. In April, the New England Governors Energy Summit was held to try and improve interstate coordination of solar development. Plus, Congressman Joe Kennedy is just one local power broker trying to change the way utility companies promote green energy, a goal shared by State Attorney General Maura Healey.
“It’s hard to argue when energy rates go up 30 to 40% in a year that there is not a crisis at hand,” Kennedy told local media.
Kennedy and Healey are both urging electric companies to lock in better rates for consumers and solar energy producers. Meanwhile, Governor Baker just announced a $10 million initiative to invest in improved green energy storage, which would make Massachusetts solar panels more efficient.
But solar advocates say that at the end of the day, it’s up to New Englanders to take the lead in hitting the state’s 1,600 megawatt benchmark.
“Take an interest,” said Marcy Reed, the president of green energy company National Grid. “It’s not someone else’s problem, it’s a problem for all of us…And this is not a crisis, it’s a huge opportunity for us to finally get this right.”
Fortunately for homeowners who would like to see Massachusetts solar panels atop their homes, the price of residential solar panels has been dropping steadily for years. Between 2009 and 2013 the price of panels dropped 80%, a trend that has continued in recent years.