Save with solar in Lowell, Massachusetts

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Lowell, Massachusetts

With a population of over 100,000, Lowell is among the largest cities in Massachusetts, forming part of the Boston Metropolitan Area. Historically, Lowell has been known for its industrial activity, especially in the textile sector. The American Industrial Revolution is considered to have started in Lowell, MA.

Lowell was founded in 1826 as a milling town and was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, a business leader of that time. Nowadays, the local economy has shifted away from manufacturing and towards commerce, tourism, and education. Lowell has a growing student population thanks to the presence of two large universities: University of Massachusetts Lowell and Middlesex Community College.

If you are visiting Lowell, you can’t miss out on the Lowell National Historical Park, which features plenty of well-preserved buildings from when the city was the largest industrial center of the nation. You can visit the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, where you can see century-old textile machinery that is still operational. You can also dine right at Mill No. 5, which is now one of the best-known restaurants in the city.

Lowell continues to be a forward-thinking city, and significant efforts are being made to reduce energy consumption while increasing the use of renewable sources.

  • Lowell is home to a utility-scale solar power project developed in 2014, using over 6,000 solar panels with a total capacity of 1.5 megawatts. The project was built above a landfill and generates enough energy to meet the needs of around 800 households. Annual estimated savings are $1.5-$2.5 million.
  • Lowell’s city government is also retrofitting the electrical and mechanical systems of its buildings to reduce energy consumption and equipping them with small-scale solar panel systems to further reduce the total amount of energy drawn from the power grid.

With a legacy of innovation and industrial development, it should come as no surprise that the government of Lowell is betting on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources to make the city more competitive and boost the local economy.

Is Solar Power a Good Investment in Lowell, MA?

Electricity in Lowell is provided by National Grid, which has an average electricity price of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), reaching 18 cents per kWh during peak demand hours, which is exactly when solar panels are the most productive. Also, residents of Lowell can earn substantial income from their solar panel systems by selling Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). Home and business owners who deploy solar in Lowell earn one SREC for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar electricity produced. In other words, if you generate 1,000 kWh of energy with a solar panel system, you save around $180 on your energy bills and are able to sell a SREC for around $270 each. The economic benefit of every MWh of solar electricity produced is around $450!

If you purchase solar panels, keep in mind that your savings will increase year by year as electricity prices continue to rise. National Grid’s basic residential rate experienced a 25 percent price increase between 2016 and 2017, increasing from 8 cents per kWh to 10 cents per kWh. Over time, utility rates are expected to continue to increase, leading to higher power bills.

Although Lowell is not a particularly sunny city, solar panels remain a solid investment due to the combination of high energy prices during peak demand hours and SREC sales, which are complemented by several additional incentives. There is a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard at the state level, requiring all local utility companies to produce 25% of their energy from clean sources by 2030. National Grid offers customers net metering, which means you get full credit for any surplus energy produced by your solar panels and exported to the grid up to the total amount of electricity you consume. Keep in mind that you continue to accumulate SRECs regardless of whether you consume or sell the energy.

Lowell also offers tax benefits for home and business owners who deploy renewable energy sources. For instance, solar panels are exempt from the sales tax, and you are not subject to a property tax increase even though solar panels make your building more valuable. As if that wasn’t enough, you can claim 15% of your investment in solar power as a state tax credit, with a maximum value of $1,000.