Save with solar in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Pittsfield was first established as an agricultural community in 1753. Now, with a population of over 44,000, Pittsfield is the third-largest municipality in Western Massachusetts. Pittsfield has earned many awards and accumulates as one of the best cities to live; it was ranked 20th among the Most Secure Places to Live by Farmers Insurance, 61st among the Best Small Places for Business by Forbes, and 24th among green cities east of the Mississippi by Country Home.

They city of Pittsfield has taken substantial steps to create a greener city by deploying more clean energy. However, innovation in the electric industry is nothing new in Pittsfield; the Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company, which later merged with General Electric, was founded in Pittsfield in 1890. Here are some of the largest solar power systems in the city:

  • A 1.8-megawatt (MW) solar panel system was deployed in Pittsfield in 2010 at the William Stanley Business Park. When it was built, this was the largest solar array in all of New England.
  • Eversource, the local electric utility, is planning the construction of a 2.18-MW solar panel system northeast of Pittsfield that will provide energy to the town.
  • The municipal government completed a 2.91-MW installation in March 2017, which is expected to yield over $140,000 in yearly savings.

Investing in Solar Power in Pittsfield, MA

Eversource is known for its high electricity rates, which often exceed 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). In addition, there was a 10 percent rate increase between 2016 and 2017, and a similar one is expected by 2018. This is bad news if you depend on the power grid for all your energy needs; however, if you generate your own energy with solar panels, your savings will increase as electricity prices increase! For example, for every 1,000 kWh of energy generated by your solar panels, you can save over $200 in power bills and that number is expected to increase year after year.

Residents of Pittsfield are also granted a Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) for every 1,000 kWh of solar energy produced. These credits can be accumulated and sold for around $270 each, which represents additional income beyond normal energy savings. Keep in mind that SRECs are an incentive for generating clean energy, so you get them even if you consume the solar electricity yourself! When you add energy savings and SREC sales, the total economic benefit of solar panels is 47 cents per kWh, or $470 for every 1,000 kWh.

Home and business owners who deploy solar panels in Pittsfield also get significant tax breaks which make their installations more affordable:

  • Sales tax exemption: Solar panels and their associated components are exempt from sales taxes.
  • Property tax exemption: Your property value is expected to increase by more than $20,000 after installing solar panels, but your property taxes stay the same.
  • State tax credit: When you purchase a solar panel system, 15% of its cost is deductible from state taxes, up to a maximum value of $1,000.
  • Federal tax credit: Home and business owners who deploy a solar panel system before 2020 can deduct 30% of its cost from their federal taxes.

If you cannot afford the upfront cost of a solar panel system, a low-interest loan may be the best option. For those who qualify, a $0-down loan allows home and business owners to start saving with solar energy immediately without investing any money upfront. The loan can be paid off with the combination of energy savings, SRECs and tax credits.