Installing Solar Panels in Berkshire County, Massachusetts: Costs, Incentives & More
Solar power has emerged as a significant energy source across Massachusetts, including Berkshire County. According to the United States Energy Information Administration,
Solar energy constituted 20% of Massachusetts’s in-state electricity net generation in 2021.
Solar energy users enjoy certain benefits, including tax credits and financing options. For example, property owners are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit for solar energy systems installed between 2022 to 2032. Similarly, the State of Massachusetts provides a 15% reduction in system cost through a state tax credit of up to $1,000.
As of 2022, Berkshire County residents can purchase average solar panels between $2.94 and $3.47 per watt. This price is about 11% higher compared with the national average.
At the same time, the total average cost of installing a residential solar energy system in the county ranges from $15,000 and $35,000.
Note: Massachusetts and the federal government offer specific incentives through tax credits.
Average cost for different sizes of solar energy systems.
|Energy System Size
|Solar Panel Cost
|Cost After Credit
Tip: Consider getting multiple estimates from manufacturers, installers, and suppliers when shopping for solar panels in Berkshire.
The average payback period for solar panels in Berkshire County is between five and eight years. The exact period depends on several factors, including installation cost, electricity produced, and monthly electric bill.
Solar energy systems that produce a large amount of electricity will likely pay for themselves faster. Similarly, higher electricity bills and abundant government incentives can shorten your payback period.
Note: Solar panels are considered home upgrades. It is comparable to a renovation, which can increase the value of your property. A study by Electricity Markets & Policy shows that homeowners are more likely to pay a premium for homes powered by solar energy.
Berkshire residents who adopt solar energy systems may be eligible for multiple incentives and rebates, including:
Established by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the SMART program aimed at increasing the adoption of solar energy in the state.
Under the program, Berkshire residents using solar energy systems are to receive compensation per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity they produce for ten years.
To be eligible for the program, the system must be connected to any of the three investor-owned grids in Massachusetts. That is, either Eversource, National Grid or Unitil.
Payments under the SMART program are commonly referred to as Solar Renewable Energy Credits or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). The rate depends on the energy your system generates and your utility provider. Nonetheless, you can expect to receive between 19 and 31 cents per kilowatt-hour produced.
The program also provides additional incentives for residents that use battery storage with their solar energy systems.
This incentive is an income tax credit granted to occupiers of properties that have a renewable energy source installed on or after January 1, 1979.
Beneficiaries are entitled to a tax credit equal to 15% of the cost of the solar energy system or $1,000, whichever is less.
To enjoy the tax credit, the property in question must be your principal residence. Additionally, you must not be dependent of another taxpayer occupying the same building. The maximum amount you can claim under this provision is $1,000.
The tax credit is provided for under section 6(d), chapter 62 of Massachusetts General Laws.
Massachusetts offers both sales tax and property tax exemptions on solar energy systems. The state charges typically a sales tax of 6.25% on most products at the point of sale. This does not, however, apply to components of solar energy systems.
In the same vein, the state would not include the value of a property’s solar energy system when determining the property's value for taxation purposes.
Designed for owners of renewable energy systems, net metering is a system used to reimburse residents of Berkshire County for excess electricity they send to the local grid. The specifics of the arrangement depend on your locality and your utility company.
The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows taxpayers in Berkshire County and other parts of the state to claim 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system as a tax credit.
The rate will reduce to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and 22% for those in 2034. The incentive will cease to apply in 2035 if Congress does not renew it. Also, there is no cap on the amount of tax credit you can obtain under the program.
This program offers a viable financing option for low-income families. Eligible homes can access low-interest loans available through the partnership between DOER and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
Berkshire residents can sell solar energy through net metering. Net metering allows you to use your excess energy generation to offset energy costs and usage from your utility company.
To be eligible, a private facility must produce 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity or less. Meanwhile, a public facility must produce 10 MW or less.
Through net metering, your excess power generation is calculated and exchanged for what is known as metering credits. You can use metering credits to reduce your electricity bill and kilowatt-hour usage.
Additionally, you can transfer your net metering credits to another account. Both accounts must be with the same utility company and within the same ISO-NE load zone.
Finally, you need a net metering facility to sell solar energy in Berkshire. Net metering facilities must comply with the state’s net metering rules and regulations. The state and county do not currently regulate installers and developers of net metering facilities.
Some of the best solar companies you can find in Berkshire County and the whole of Massachusetts include:
Sun Power has over 30 years of providing solar energy services. The brand is prominent for its excellent customer service, high-efficiency solar panels, and comprehensive warranties. Sun Power also has an innovative consultation system that provides studio renderings of a customer's system.
Since its establishment in 2010, Palmetto Solar has become one of the leading providers of solar energy systems in Massachusetts. Palmetto Solar offers affordable financing options and smart-home batteries to cater to periods of low solar activity.
All Energy Solar
All Energy Solar is one of a kind. Apart from solar installations, the company is licensed as a building and electrical contractor. It also offers financing options. Therefore, the company is able to cater to customers’ needs wholesomely. It provides services to a wide range of customers, including government agencies, farmers, residences, and industries.
Boston Solar is one of the most popular providers of solar energy systems in the state, with about 5,000 completed installations. It also has quality panels, workmanship, and great customer service. The company offers customers a 10-year production guarantee.
ACE Solar is a top option for solar power systems in Berkshire. It offers creative solar solutions that are cost-effective for both homes and businesses in the county. The company has been ranked the No. 1 Massachusetts solar contractor by Solar Power World.
When picking a solar company to work with in Berkshire County, consider the brand’s range of services, cost and financing options, the types of panels they use, incentives and rebates, and the scope of their warranty.
Massachusetts mandates that only electricians licensed in the state can install solar energy systems. The United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy also recommends using qualified professionals.
You can verify the license of a solar installer from Berkshire County or other parts of Massachusetts using the Division of Occupational Licensure’s Check a License portal.
You can also search for electricians and solar installers certified by professional bodies such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Such certification may indicate that the installer is well-trained.
Note: Installing a solar energy system in Berkshire requires a building and electrical permit. Ensure that your installer obtains this permit before commencing work on your property.
Yes, installing solar panels is considered an improvement that increases a home’s value in Berkshire. According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, solar installations boost a home’s resale value by about $4 per watt, up to a premium of about $15,000.
Factors such as installation prices, electricity rates, system output, system age, and system replacement value determine how much the system can affect a home’s value. However, note that systems installed under lease agreements and PPAs may not increase a home’s worth.
Yes, solar panels are exempt from the valuation of a property for taxation. According to Massachusetts General Law, solar users enjoy a 100% property tax exemption for the first 20 years of the system’s use.
Massachusetts property tax exemption can save average homeowners about $18,287.68.
Berkshire residents have access to multiple local solar companies. The following is a quick guide to finding solar companies.
Step 1. Create a broad list of solar companies that operate in your vicinity. Use clear, simple searches such as “Berkshire solar companies near me” or “Massachusetts solar companies near me.” Similarly, you can ask for recommendations from family, friends, and trusted electrical contractors.
Step 2. Narrow down your list by confirming the license status of the companies and doing away with the unlicensed ones. Also, look out for companies certified by professional associations. Certifications from professional associations give more credence to a brand.
Step 3. Check online customer reviews on third-party websites like Google reviews and Yelp. Examining positive and negative reviews will give you a balanced insight into how the installer works. You can also contact past clients to learn more about a brand. At this point, you should also check out the company’s workmanship, warranty, and customer service.
Step 4. While narrowing your list, you should also check the companies’ range of services to be sure they offer what you need. This includes the type of solar panels and financing options, which vary from company to company.
Step 5. Contact the companies on your final shortlist and request estimates based on your need. Compare the estimates and cost, and then make your decision. Price should not be the only factor that informs your selection.
Any estimate you opt for should have the key components of your project. The company must also be able to meet the legal and technical requirements for your project.