While the initial cost of embracing solar power can be high, there are many federal, state and local incentives to help offset the startup expense and accelerate the long-term cost savings.
“TMLP is one of the best areas in the country to install solar,” Munro Distributing Co.’s training director Misha Glazomitsky said, describing the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant’s solar rebate policy.
Munro Distributing Co. held a solar energy forum Tuesday night at its Raynham facility. Munro, which is headquartered in Fall River and has facilities in five states, says it has supplied nearly 1 million square feet of rooftops with solar arrays. The company specializes in electrical supply, energy conservation and renewable energy.
State Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, also spoke about renewable energy at the forum. Concern over environmental issues in recent years led lawmakers in Massachusetts to embrace a “clean energy economy,” making it one of the nation’s top renewable energy states, he said.
“It is large and it is growing …” Pacheco said. “People are embracing the policies we’ve adopted in Massachusetts because it greens up the bottom line.”
Pacheco — who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and serves as the Senate chairman on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture — said there has been a 24 percent growth in green energy jobs in Massachusetts since 2011.
“It’s the hottest part of our economy,” he said, citing projections that there will be 80,000 green energy jobs statewide by in 2014.
Munro got into solar energy seven years ago, when there were just 20 other solar companies in the state. There are now more than 350 solar companies in Massachusetts, Glazomitsky said.
Within the TMLP service area, a 5 kW system costing $18,750 can take as little as three years to break even, and the average return on investment for installing a solar energy system is 25 percent, Glazomitsky said.
The Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant is not part of state programs such as the Mass Clean Energy Center, but the public utility provider does offer incentives to encourage residential and commercial property owners to embrace solar power. TMLP provides onetime solar energy rebates of $2 per watt installed, up to $5,000.
The state rebate, Glazomitsky said, is capped at a maximum 85 cents per watt, with most homeowners qualifying for 45 cents per watt.
There are also federal tax credits of up to 30 percent for going solar, and a state tax credit of $1,000. For every 1,000 kWh produced, the solar power system’s owner will get a solar renewable energy credit, which is currently worth $240 at its lowest value.
TMLP’s net metering program also allows the owners of solar power systems to put surplus electricity into the power grid, creating a credit on their electric bill.
“As that power’s being generated, it spins your meter backwards,” Glazomitsky said.
To be eligible for the TMLP solar rebate, the applicant must have had an active TMLP account for at least six months. The solar project must be installed by licensed professionals and be approved by TMLP beforehand in order to be eligible for the rebate. The customer is also required to sign a net metering agreement and an interconnection agreement with TMLP.
“It’s rare that you put solar on your home and it eliminates your entire electric bill,” Glazomitsky said. “Normally, it’s going to eliminate a part of it.”