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What is the Massachusetts SMART Program?

Massachusetts is the golden state for solar energy in the country. The state has spearheaded solar energy incentive programs for years, and not so surprisingly. For a state that’s beleaguered by high electric bills, such programs create a way to quickly recover initial investment on the solar energy setup and make solar power drastically more affordable for residential buyers.

After the SREC program reached its capacity for solar installations in 2016, the state came out with the new SMART program. Here is everything that a homeowner in the Bay state should know about it.

Overview of the SMART Program

Under the SMART program, registered homeowners are paid by the state of Massachusetts. The energy rates are fixed by the state for every kilowatt-hour of solar energy produced by the homeowner. The rate paid is the difference between the cost of electricity they produced and the total amount of the net-metering incentive. 

That’s right, Massachusetts homeowners already receive credit in their utility bills for sending the excess electricity they produce to the main grid. By accounting for the incentive, the state ensures that it’s not double-paying the homeowner for the same energy units.

How SMART Works?

The incentive homeowners receive under the SMART program is determined by the number of installations in that block. A block has a threshold of 200 megawatts. Once the threshold is reached, the incentive for solar energy production goes down for all the members in the block. 

In general, the amount of incentive you receive as a member of the SMART program depends on:

  • Block Type
  • Utility Company
  • Type of Solar Setup
  • Size of Solar Setup

Let’s say David has a solar setup that produces 10kWh of energy. For his utility company, the fixed incentive for his block is $0.35 per kWh. In the initial stage, supposing the state pegs the energy cost at $0.20 per kWh. Net Incentive for David will be the difference between $0.35 and $0.20, which comes to $0.15. So, for a 10-year duration, David will earn 1.5 times the annual production number for a 10kW solar energy. Apart from the incentive, SMART Program also includes bonuses for energy storage systems, solar canopies, landfill installations, and more.

SMART vs SRECs

In principle, both programs are the same. You are incentivized to produce and use solar energy. However, in practice, they differ. The primary difference is how they compensate for the energy production. In the SREC program, homeowners get a certificate, which they can trade like a commodity in the market to get the best price for their energy. The rate of energy fluctuates depending on the macroeconomic conditions. In the SMART program, the amount of incentive is fixed at the inception. You get that fixed amount for the entire duration of the program.

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