The Boston Globe just published an article stating that the average cost of a small-scale solar system in Massachusetts is $15,000. Small-scale means home solar or solar power for a small business. Federal and state tax incentives, plus creative financing helped lower the costs there.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and cities and towns formed a partnership called Solarize Massachusetts. The partnership uses a grassroots approach to raise awareness about solar power. Well over 2,000 home owners and business owners signed contracts for solar power systems as a result of its efforts.
If you asked someone what she or he thought a home solar system cost the reply might be $30,000-$35,000. However, the cost of solar has declined dramatically over the last six years or so. It seems that awareness in the public has not caught up to this new reality.
In Massachusetts, there is also a plan to potentially purchase solar power in bulk. Qualifying universities and non-profits could get good deals on solar power and so could their alumni and the family members of current students.
While this may sound great for Massachusetts residents, what about the rest of the country? Other states can replicate the supportive public policies and arrange their own bulk purchasing programs.
Currently, the United States produces only about one percent of its electricity from solar power. When the public understands how much lower the cost of solar power has become, certainly interest will increase. This interest should increase the number of new solar power systems, resulting in more awareness.
Some companies now have programs that support home solar by offering their employees discounts when they buy it in bulk. Cisco, National Geographic and Kimberly-Clark are examples of these kinds of companies.
Even with all the progress that has been made, there still are ardent naysayers who bash solar power in an uninformed manner. They say that the lower cost isn’t true because of the government support in terms of tax credits, but fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal are supported with subsidies as well, and have been for longer than renewables have.