must hang together or surely we will hang separately (Ben)

Climate Change, Photovoltaics and Electric Cars

by John Howard


Climate Change
Electric Cars
Solar Energy
South Hadley
Contact John


Moss garden in Koyoto

So overused that it was closed to the public in order to save it.


as of July. 2016

Renewable energy tax credits and rebates seem to come and go in a very arbitrary way. A check of federal, state, town, seller, installer and utility web sites (some of which are listed below) is the best before any purchase. Also get several estimates and talk to equipment owners. The qualifications, rules and paperwork are also a moving target.

Why should you get tax credits and rebates for renewables? For the same reason we get them for children, education, major illness, business expenses and so on. The credits and rebates are an attempt to get folks to do things that will help society as a whole.

All Mass Clean Energy Center Programs (Available to South Hadley residents only after we join the Renewable Energy Trust

Incentives in Mass - from Central Mass Green

DOER List of Hundreds of Energy and Environmental Incentives

Residential solar photovoltaic (PV) installations get a 30% federal tax credit which will end on December 31, 2016. The work must be done by a professional in order to get incentives. If the tax credit exceeds your tax, the credit can be carried over to the next tax year. The Mass. state rebate has ended and been replaced by very low interest loans which one can arrange from some banks and credit unions starting at the end of this year. Some installers who offer loans included may have higher interest rates or charge more for the panels and hide the extra cost in the loan. AS a benchmark, last year I paid $8,625 for a 2.3kwh PV system. The Massachusetts solar renewable energy credits or SRECs will still get you a check several times a year. The amount depends on the size of your system and the current auction price.

 Electric and hybrid electric cars get up to a $7,500 depending on the battery size. These expire after the manufacturer sells 200,000 cars. If the credit exceeds your tax for the year of purchase you loose the excess. Switching retirement money from a tax free IRA to a Roth IRA can increase your taxes. Massachusetts offers a $2,500 rebate at the time of the electric car sale. Just over 40% of the three million dollars remains at this writing.

There are also rebates or credits for all manner of home appliance from air conditioners and hot water heaters to furnaces and all sorts of heat pumps. Check your utility first. In South Hadley SHELD offers $25 rebates on the following - clothes washer, refrigerator, freezer dishwasher, room a/c, dehumidifier, and air purifier. A heat pump hot water heater nets you a $300 rebate. These currently end on December 31, 2015 but have been renewed in the past. Massachusetts has many programs via the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The IRS offers tax credits on a host of items but watch the rules. A heat pump water heater is another $300. The in the last few years IRS was often slow in posting the needed tax forms on line. As a result you may have to wait till March to do your taxes.

Mass Solar Loan Program

There has been much talk that only the rich can afford photovoltaic solar upfront costs. That is changing. The Mass Solar Loan Program will funnel 30 million dollars in state funds for solar installs via local banks and credit unions to lower interest rates. South Hadley residents are eligible for these loans. The loan money will buy down the bank interest rate by 3%. Customer rates have been as low as 1.25% for those with good credit from good lenders. As we found in 2008 it is always good to look carefully at several banks.  A list of preapproved installers and financial institutions with a description of procedures is available at: Below are some of the important points from the site.


The Mass Solar Loan Program includes three incentives to help Massachusetts residents go solar. While terms may vary, lenders will offer 10-year fixed-rate loans between $3,000 and $35,000.

Interest Rate Buy Down

The Mass Solar Loan program reduces the annual interest rate paid by solar system owners by 3 percent below the typical rate charged by participating lenders. This Interest Rate Buy Down is available to all solar system owners regardless of income.

Loan Loss Reserve

Depending on a resident’s credit score, lenders may be eligible for additional incentives to help their customers go solar. If a resident’s credit record is less than perfect, they should ask a participating lender if they might qualify for the Loan Loss Reserve incentive. 

Income-Based Loan Support

Consumers with annual household incomes $80,240 and below may be eligible to have the Mass Solar Loan program pay a portion of their loan principal when the project is complete.

Household Income Loan Principal Buy Down Rate (% of Loan)

Less than $66,866 annually - CEC will pay 30 percent of the loan

Between $66,866 and $80,240 CEC will pay 20 percent of the loan

The new Mass Solar Loan Program is designed to make solar PV more affordable. It is administered through local banks. If you earn less than $66,866 annually the program will pay 30 percent of your loan. If you earn less than $80,240 annually the program will pay 20 percent of your loan. The federal tax credit is 30 percent for the next five years. Massachusetts has a one time 15 percent tax credit up to $1,000.

Here is a concrete example. Lets say you earn less than $66,866 annually. The Solar Store of Greenfield installed an additional 2kw PV system for $9,000 on my house two years ago. The loan program would pay for 30% or about $3,000, the IRS tax credit is 30% or roughly $3,000 and the Mass tax credit is $1,000. That brings the cost to $2,000!

You will receive checks from the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) but I cannot say what the amount of the SRECs will be as the third generation on the program is now being created. You will also enjoy a reduction of your electric bill. Installers can give you a better idea of these amounts and look at your roof’s sun situation. Get three estimates. It is a free education.

The cost of all of the above is within reach of motivated middle income folk. Now there are some possibilities for the low income people. There are used and leased electric cars. The low interest loans for solar can be paid back at a rate lower than your obsolete electric bill. The Mass. CEC’s woodstove change-out program offers extra money for those with lower incomes. The program usually starts in Feb., is announced by CEC and runs for several months.