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

Legislature fails to lift solar caps, despite broad public support

The Legislature failed to lift caps on solar net metering during its final formal session of the year today. As a result, solar projects that have been stalled for more than seven months will likely remain in limbo until January at the earliest.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Statement: House solar bill is “outrageous,” officials must do better

As the Massachusetts House considers legislation today to lift the caps on solar net metering, Environment Massachusetts State Director Ben Hellerstein issued the following statement.

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Thousands of Residents, Civic, Business Leaders Demand Legislature Expand Solar Power

More than 100 activists and solar power supporters rallied at the State House today demanding House Speaker Robert DeLeo lift a cap that has stalled the growth of solar in towns and cities throughout the state. Urging action before the legislative session ends Wednesday, advocates delivered letters signed by more than 1,000 civic and business leaders, as well as more than 8,000 petition signatures from Massachusetts residents, asking state officials to expand opportunities for solar power.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Community leaders say solar is working for low-income families

With the Legislature poised to make major decisions on the future of solar energy, leaders from low-income communities and religious congregations released a letter urging officials to continue the rapid growth of solar and ensure that its benefits are available to all.

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Leaders should embrace clean energy future, reject fossil fuels

Clean energy supporters gathered at a State House hearing today urging officials to embrace solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency, and reject proposals to build new fossil fuel infrastructure. Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement.

> Keep Reading

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