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

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. 2017

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.

For a long time I’ve been wondering if something would come along to kick us into high gear on climate change the way Pearl Harbor put the US into world war two. Trump’s action on the Paris Accord might do it! Arriving soon is a second negative event, the diminishing of incentives for PV Solar.

There are now five things which make PV solar a money and life saving idea. They are: the 30% federal tax credit, the 20-30% loan repayment from the Mass solar loan program for folks with incomes less than $80,240 and $66,866, the SREC payment (mine was $2,177 last year for a 5KW system last year), the end, or nearly so, of an electric bill and, most important, the step toward ending the Climate Change spiral. They are changing.

2017 Trump began, and it is only beginning, his assault on all things which would end Climate Change.
2018 The SREC payments in Mass. will be replaced by “SMART” and go down by 25-50%.
The Mass Solar Loan program will run out of funding. They might get more?
2019 The 30% federal tax credit will go down by 26%.
If you are considering Photovoltaic Solar, do it now!

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

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. The MA drive green program offers dealer incentives up to $10,000 depending on the car and the dealer.

MA Rebate

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.

Woodstove Changout Program -

Mass Solar Loan Program

as of 1/1/18 the program has changed
see website for updates

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. The best I've heard of is North Brimfield Bank at 866-711-6272. 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. NOTE: You can only get one loan so if you think it possible that you might get an electric car, heat pump water heater, mini split, etc., oversize your PV install.

Direct Contacts: Savannah 617-315-9325
Fax: 617-315-9356
informational resources: Program Manual and FAQ

The 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 or two. 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! in 2017 a friend installed a 5kw rooftop system for $5,500 after incentives.

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 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. 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.