Head of Sales & Operations
Head of R&D
Massachusetts New Home Solar Mandate
August 9, 2019
In this week’s livestream, Patrick and Andrew dive into Massachusetts’ two new bills that resemble California’s solar mandate on all new homes and buildings. Currently, the pair of bills are moving along through the Massachusetts Legislature and are under consideration by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Read on to learn more about these bills.
What is the Massachusetts New Solar Mandate?
There are two newly proposed bills that require solar panels on new buildings. The bill SB 1957, requires rooftop solar panels on new residential and commercial buildings. The second bill, SB 1995 requires panels to be equipped on new or renovated state-owned buildings. Both bills, however, include exemptions for buildings where solar may not be a viable option, such as buildings with prominent shading.
The SB 1957 bill is an act that aims to increase solar rooftop energy on new residential and commercial buildings that require building permits to proceed. The new construction on these buildings must be constructed to accommodate the solar energy system installation. The state board of building regulations and standards will make amendments to building codes that will include requirements for roof orientation and angle, roof types, and conduit for wiring from roof to electric panel. In comparison to California’s solar mandate, the state only requires solar panels on new homes. The mandate includes the following residential buildings: single-family homes as well as multi-family homes, single-family homes including apartment buildings and condominium. Commercial buildings of 10,000 or more square feet are included in this mandate.
According to the bill:
- Single family buildings shall have a solar energy system producing sufficient electricity on an annual basis to meet 100% of the average electricity demand of dwellings of a similar size and type.
- Multi-family dwellings and large commercial buildings up to ten stories in height shall have a solar energy system producing sufficient electricity on an annual basis to meet minimum standards established by the board.
- The board may reduce the required minimum capacity of solar energy systems for single-family and multi-family dwellings by up to 25% if installed in conjunction with a battery storage system with a minimum capacity of 7.5 kW hours per dwelling unit.
For information regarding this bill, read here.
The SB 1995 bill aims to increase solar rooftop energy on new or renovated state owned buildings such as government buildings. According to the bill, the area of a building where the solar energy system will be present would be equivalent to 70% or greater of the output of an unshaded solar energy system on an annual basis. The bill also states that if the portion of the building is large enough to support a solar energy system, the system shall produce enough electricity on an annual basis to meet 100% of the projected annual electricity demand of the building. If the portion of the building is not large enough, there are options for including a ground-mount installation as so it does not cause negative impact to the building’s natural or historic resources as long as the system is sized to meet 100% of the building’s projected annual electricity demand.
To learn more about this bill, read here.
Over 2.2 GW of Solar Capacity
As of June 2019, Massachusetts ranks eighth as the top US solar market leader, just seven positions behind California, who ranks first. According to SEIA, Massachusetts has more than 2.2 GW of solar capacity, and over 400,000 homes are powered by solar. These bills would make the state closer to meeting its 80% carbon-free energy goal by 2050. If passed, roughly 2.4 GW of solar will be created by 2045 which is roughly the same capacity of solar the state currently produces.
An Ambitious Future Ahead
We see a strong initiative coming from Massachusetts as it not only aims to equip residential buildings with solar, but commercial and state owned buildings as well. As Patrick mentions, commercial and state owned buildings are much larger buildings and produce a lot more energy compared to residential buildings. In addition, these larger-scale buildings have potential to offset greater amounts of energy. As we see more action being taken, perhaps these bills will normalize solar energy and create a greater need for solar panel installation especially for older residential homes that are exempt from this bill. Andrew asks how this mandate will affect the current market of homeowners and what kind of actions they may take to compete with these new homes that are equipped with solar. Will solar panels be a new requirement for future homebuyers? Must current homeowners install solar panels to compete with these new homes? What do you think?
If you’re located in Massachusetts and are considering installing solar panels onto your home, your time is now! Speak to one of our Energy Advisors to learn about the incentives available to you in Massachusetts and see how much you can save now versus in the future when these incentives expire.