It’s time for Massachusetts to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

20 percent solar by 2025

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. That’s why we’re urging Gov. Charlie Baker to make commitments that will help put Massachusetts on the road to 100% clean energy, with 20 percent solar by 2025. 

Achieving this state goal would help move our country closer to the national goal of getting 10 percent solar by 2030. This would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits for our environment, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help Massachusetts go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Massachusetts Ranks 10th in the Nation in Solar Power

BOSTON, MA –Massachusetts ranks 10th in the nation on solar installed per capita and 7th in total solar capacity through 2012, according to Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts.   Last year, solar capacity in Massachusetts grew by 65%, bringing it to a total of 198 megawatts through the end of 2012.  Massachusetts was profiled as one a dozen states that have led the nation in solar energy with supportive policies and a commitment to continued expansion. In May, the Commonwealth shot past its 2017 goal of 250 megawatts of solar more than three years early; putting it on track to rank even higher next year. 

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Massachusetts Hits 2017 Solar Goal 4 Years Early

Governor Deval Patrick announced that Massachusetts met his goal of getting 250 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity installed in Massachusetts by 2017 – four years ahead of schedule and that he was dramatically expanding the goal to 1600 MW by 2020, – a commitment Environment Massachusetts has been campaigning for the Governor to announce.

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Strong Support in Massachusetts for Taking Solar Energy to the Next Level

With solar energy on the rise in Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts joined 58 cities, towns, businesses, along with environmental, public health and civic organizations today in submitting letters to Governor Patrick and his Department of Energy Resources (DOER) urging them expand the state's solar requirement and to set goal of at least 50,000 solar roofs in Massachusetts by the end of the decade. Touting widespread support from the public and a broad array of stakeholders, many organizations attended a public hearing urging Massachusetts to seal Massachusetts’ status as a national leader by setting bold and achievable goals and updating key policies.

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Sens. Warren and Cowan Join Bipartisan Leaders in U.S. Senate and House to Jumpstart Offshore Wind

Massachusetts U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and William “Mo” Cowan joined U.S. Senators and Representatives today to introduce bills in the U.S. Senate and House to incentivize offshore wind development. The bills would provide an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for offshore wind power worth up to 30 percent of the cost of the project for the first 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects in the United States.

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News Release

President Obama, Congress Save Wind Power in Fiscal Cliff Agreement

Boston– Yesterday President Obama signed into law a bill that extends key tax credits for wind power and averts the ‘fiscal cliff.’ The main federal incentives for wind power – the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the offshore wind Investment Tax Credit (ITC) – expired on December 31, 2012, but the new law ensures credits will now be available for wind power projects that start construction over the next year, allowing for continued growth of Massachusetts and American wind power. Environment Massachusetts staff and supporters played a key role in building support for wind energy as the 'fiscal cliff' approached.

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