Solar Rebates & Loan Programs Expiring in 2020

Wednesday, October 14th

All good things must come to an end, or so they say. But with the Mass Solar Loan (MSL) and its related 30% Income Based Rebate, the clock is winding down in 2020. Similarly, the State’s Municipal Rebate program is also set to expire this year.

The ending of these programs and rebates will not affect everyone, but they will have a dramatic effect on anyone in lower income brackets or living in towns with their own light department.

We have a new homeowner, Vivian, from the town of Templeton that was applicable for both the Mass Solar Loan Income Based Rebate and their towns’ Solar Municipal Rebate. These rebates account for thousands of dollars in savings. However, in just a few short months, homeowners like Vivian would miss out on opportunities like this.

Showing the percentages of the ITC discounts per year starting in 2016 through 2022.

The Income Based Rebate

In a State that is supposed to promote equality, it is a shame that Massachusetts is not continuing the Income Based Rebate program. This rebate, up to $10,500 off the solar system cost, has helped hundreds of MA medium to low income residents go solar. Without this rebate, many of these residents would not have been able to afford solar. To participate in this program, one must also participate in the Mass Solar Loan program (MSL). Since MSL is set to expire this year, for many, so too will the dreams of low cost solar electricity.

Showing the percentages of the ITC discounts per year starting in 2016 through 2022.

Mass Solar Loan(MSL)

The Mass Solar Loan (MSL) program has been an unprecedented success since its inception. It has allowed hundreds of MA homeowners an easy and affordable way to go solar. In Conjunction with the State’s goal of solar adoption, MSL has been the perfect companion piece. MSL has provided solar financing with no upfront costs. For many, MSL allowed them to replace their monthly utility bill with a MSL loan payment. The biggest difference between the two being EQUITY.

With a utility bill, you can live in a house and pay your bill for years, and in the end, having nothing to show for it. Why? Because you are RENTING ELECTRICITY. With MSL, every payment goes towards the ownership of your power. In other words, you shift from a renting position, to an EQUITY POSITION!

There are other sources to finance a solar system, but MSL had some unique advantages. For low income residents, the Income Based Rebate was was their lifeblood to solar. For many others, the MassCEC’s oversight and cap on closing costs and “no hidden fees” provided clarity and confidence.

Many other solar finance programs have hidden costs such as “Dealer Fees.” Dealer fees are percentage charged to the solar installer. Unfortunately, usually the solar installer has to increase their selling price to the homeowner to offset these costs. We believe that is a losing proposition.

Showing the percentages of the ITC discounts per year starting in 2016 through 2022.

Municipal Rebates

Some people may not realize it, but there are dozens of cities and towns in MA that have their own municipal light departments (MLD). Currently, many of them are offering a solar rebate, but those are set to expire at the end of this year.

Unlike the public utilities (National Grid, Eversourse and Unitil), these MLD’s are independently owned and run by that municipality. In many cases, the MLDs have low electricity costs and excellent service departments. Unfortunately however, these MLD’s are monopolies and are not subject to oversight from the Department of Public Utilities.

Part of this monopoly gives MLD’s the ability to set their own solar regulations. As you can imagine, some towns like Concord, Taunton and Templeton have amazing solar programs. Others (not to mention any by name 😒 ) have less attractive programs.

As a means to help encourage solar, the State established a solar municipal rebate program. The solar rebate amounts range from town to town, but in some cases (like the above mentioned towns), the rebates are substantial. Again, we are sad to say these municipal rebates are set to expire at the end of 2020.

Timelines

Here are some deadlines for the above expiring programs:

  • Mass Solar Loan: Loan must be closed by Dec. 31st, 2020 or when funds are exhausted
  • Income Based Rebate: When funds are exhausted
  • Municipal Rebate:Dec. 31st, 2020 or when funds become exhausted

That phrase “when funds are exhausted” is scary and uncertain. For clarification, the MassCEC has written the following:

*MassCEC will announce the date certain with a minimum 30-day advance notice.

If you are looking to participate in any of these programs, please let us know as soon as possible so we can secure your place.

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