Save with solar in Westfield, Massachusetts

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Westfield, Massachusetts

Westfield, a part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, was first settled in 1660 as an agricultural and trading community. By the early 19th century Westfield had evolved into a thriving industrial town, strongly focused on the production of cigars, bricks, and whips. The buggy whip industry was particularly successful, and Westfield was nicknamed “Whip City” as a result – after two centuries, the city still produces whips that are sold internationally.

With a population of over 41,000, Westfield now boosts a thriving economy focused on retail and education. In fact, students represent 15% of its population. Westfield has also seen a rise in renewable energy generation, often driven by its large student population. For example, in 2017, Westfield State University established a goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy.

The city has also carried out large-scale projects to deploy renewable energy and reduce its environmental footprint:

  • The former Twiss Street landfill was turned into a solar farm in 2015. The project has an installed capacity of 2.5 megawatts (MW).
  • Construction of another solar farm is being planned by Green Meadow Lumber, and it will cover an area of 10.7 acres.

The state of Massachusetts designated Westfield as a Green Community in 2017, and the city could earn a grant of more than $260,000 to continue its sustainability efforts.

Investing in Solar Power in Westfield, MA

Westfield is served by its own municipal utility, Westfield Gas and Electric (WG&E). Their electricity price is around 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is almost 30% lower than the Massachusetts average, but still higher than the national average. WG&E changed its fee structures in early 2017, but the average kWh price stayed roughly the same, though, price increases are expected for 2018. The price of electricity in Westfield is anticipated to remain higher than the national average, so it is possible to achieve significant energy savings with solar panels in Westfield.

In addition to reducing your power bills, a solar panel system accumulates Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), at a rate of one credit for every 1,000 kWh of clean energy generated. Utility companies in Massachusetts must obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2025 or be subject to fines. In order to meet those goals, utility companies can buy SRECs from residents of Massachusetts to get credit for the clean energy produced by residential solar panels. This is a significant financial benefit of installing solar panels.

Here is how we think of the combined effect of energy bill savings and SREC income in MA:

  • Generating 1,000 kWh saves you around $145 in power bills.
  • Each SREC sells for around $270 per 1,000 kWh of solar electricity produced (as of mid-2017).
  • The total economic benefit of generating 1,000 kWh of solar power in Westfield, MA is $415, or $0.415 per kWh.

If you purchase a solar panel system in Westfield, you also get four separate tax incentives:

  • A sales tax exemption, which directly reduces your upfront cost.
  • Property tax exemption: Solar panel systems will increase the value of your property, but your property taxes will stay the same.
  • State tax credit: 15% of the cost of a solar panel system is deductible from state taxes, up to a maximum of $1,000.
  • Solar Investment Tax Credit: 30% of the cost of your solar system is deductible from federal taxes. This benefit is in addition to the state tax credit. Just keep in mind that the full 30% credit only applies to solar panel systems that are operational before the end of 2019. A partial credit is available in 2020 and 2021, and the benefit expires fully in 2022. This makes now the best time to go solar!

The combination of energy bill savings, SREC sales, and tax credits make solar panels affordable in Westfield, MA. There are many financing options available that will let you go solar with $0 down and can save you thousands of dollars every year. With all the incentives available, a solar panel system is one of the best investments you can make if you own a property in Westfield!