Save with solar in Chicopee, Massachusetts

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Chicopee, Massachusetts

Chicopee is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, and is the second-largest municipality in western Massachusetts with a population of over 55,000. The city was originally a part of Springfield, but becoming an independent town in 1848. Chicopee is nicknamed “The Crossroads of New England” because many state roads and interstate highways meet in the city, which has turned Chicopee into an important logistics and transportation hub.

The region that eventually became Chicopee was settled in 1660, and by 1678 the village already had its first sawmill. Over the following centuries other industries also flourished, including ironworking and textile manufacturing.

Today, Chicopee is home to a thriving solar power industry, and the city is now home to several significant solar farms:

  • The Chicopee River Solar project is located at a former landfill and has an installed capacity of 2.6 megawatts. The installation has been operational since 2015, spanning an area of 13 acres, with over 8,300 individual solar panels.
  • The municipal government completed a 3-megawatt solar farm in January of 2017 that is located near the Westover Air Reserve Base. The solar farm covers an area of 21.6 acres.
  • Chicopee Electric Light, the municipal utility, has introduced incentive programs for homeowners who invest in energy efficiency or renewable generation.

Is Solar Power a Good Investment in Chicopee, MA?

Chicopee has its own municipal utility, Chicopee Electric Light (CEL), and as a result the local electricity price is lower than in the rest of the state; while investor-owned utilities charge up to 20 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour), CEL charges slightly over 12 cents per kWh. CEL rates have remained stable over recent years. However, solar panels are very affordable in Chicopee, and a solar power system can reduce your electricity expenses significantly.

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) provide an excellent source of income for solar panel owners. Each time your system generates 1,000 kWh of solar energy, you are awarded one SREC. As of 2017, SRECs are being traded for around $270 each. Combining your SREC income of $270 with your electric bill savings of $120, the total economic value of generating 1,000 kWh with your own solar panels is around $390!

In addition to selling SRECs, solar panel owners are eligible to receive rebates and tax benefits that make solar panels more affordable in Chicopee:

  • CEL has a rebate program where they pay you $0.50 per watt of solar power capacity, up to $2,500 per installation. In other words, you can claim $0.50 per watt for the first 5 kilowatts of installed capacity.
  • Solar panels are exempt from all sales tax.
  • Your property taxes will not increase even though installing solar panels will increase the value of your property by $20,000 - $30,000.
  • State tax credit: 15% of the cost of your solar panel system up to a total of $1,000 can be claimed as a deduction from your state taxes.
  • Federal tax credit: For all solar panels systems installed before 2020, you can deduct 30% of your total expenses when upon filing your next federal tax declaration.

Keep in mind that tax credits are not calculated based on the full cost – the CEL rebate must be deducted first, and the calculation is based on the net cost. However, this means that residents of Chicopee can get a solar system for about half price. There are also several financing options available for those who qualify. Paying for your solar system through a loan allows you to go solar with $0 down and start saving from the first day your system is installed.