Northeast Community Solar Initiative Led by Massachusetts

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In a 2020 regional solar policy report, Solar Power World revealed that Massachusetts is leading the Northeast United States in the community solar initiative. Though it’s not the only state with a policy allowing community solar, it has nearly double the megawatts of the next leading state, New York.

According to the report, Massachusetts has enough community solar projects to generate 436-megawatts of solar energy. New York follows with 243-megawatts, though future projects awaiting approval in the Empire State will likely drive that figure up exponentially. Unfortunately, outside of those two states, the others are still either fighting policy or working with newly adopted state legislation to amp up their generation.

Based on the Solar Power World regional report, the state that’s lagging behind the most is Pennsylvania. Recent stories out of Pennsylvania show that there has been an ongoing struggle to pass legislation to allow for the development of community solar projects. Bill HB531 sponsored by Republic Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer is on the table to allow for a community solar initiative to bring affordable and accessible solar options to low- to middle-income residents. 

Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) public affairs director, Matt Hargarten, stressed the importance of community solar. He pointed to the economic downturn in many states caused by the coronavirus, which has led to high unemployment rates. Hargarten states that, when community solar programs open, they fill immediately because customers are seeking the associated credit on their monthly utility bill.

Opposite Pennsylvania, Massachusetts has shown ample success with solar options. According to CCSA northeast director Erika Niedowski, the state has been a pioneer in the solar industry. Its role in community solar started as early as 2013, when the first policies were passed to allow for the construction of installations. Since then, the state has continued to improve its solar infrastructure.

According to Niedowski, other states can follow Massachusetts as an example of how to handle solar. Specifically, ensuring there is a clear pathway that shows the importance of solar energy to the local community and how the local utility company will handle solar interconnection.


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