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 Research and Policy Center

Power plants are nation’s biggest contributors to global warming, putting Massachusetts communities in harm’s way

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy nears, a new report from Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center sheds light on the largest contributors to global warming pollution: power plants.

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Report | Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center

America's Dirtiest Power Plants

Global warming is one of the most profound threats of our time, and we’re already starting to feel the impacts – especially when it comes to extreme weather. Power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States, responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s production of carbon dioxide pollution. This report identifies the dirtiest power plants in Massachusetts and the United States, quantifies their contribution to global warming pollution, and calls on the Obama administration to adopt strong rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants

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News Release | Environment Massachusetts

Massachusetts Urged to Strengthen Cap on Climate Altering Carbon Emissions

Environment Massachusetts joined other environmental, public health and business organizations today at a public hearing on proposed improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap on climate-altering carbon emissions from power plants. 

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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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