How Massachusetts Businesses Are Earning Money From Solar

How Massachusetts Businesses Are Earning Money From Solar

Savvy business-owners across the Commonwealth have long recognized the powerful economic and brand case for investing in solar energy. They are utilizing their roof space, parking lots, or open land to reduce operational expenses, realize generous tax benefits, and support clean energy. While onsite or “behind the meter” solar is still an attractive option, the SMART program makes it even easier and more lucrative than ever for property owners to realize the benefits of solar energy.

Although certainly not the sunniest state in the nation, Massachusetts continues to be a leader in solar energy deployment thanks to forward-thinking policies like the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program.

How the SMART Program and Feed-In Tariffs Work 

Known in the industry as a feed-in tariff, the SMART program allows for guaranteed, fixed income for up to 20 years for eligible projects interconnected into Eversource, National Grid, or Unitil. This means the utility pays you, the system owner, or in leased scenarios, the third-party owner for the energy the system produces. In this model, the energy from the solar array is delivered directly into the utility’s distribution grid instead of being connected strictly behind the meter and powering your building¹. One distinct difference with this feed-in-tariff model compared to traditional net-metering² is that systems do not have to be sized to your historical consumption. In simpler terms, building owners are not limited to solar systems that produce the same amount of energy that the building consumes. This allows interested businesses the ability to maximize a solar project on the roof, parking lot, or field and thereby maximizing their payouts.

The result is a speedier vehicle for deploying distributed energy resources like solar throughout the state, where building owners no longer have to weigh whether or not an investment in solar is right for them. You can simply contract a qualified provider like Pivot Energy to lease your roof and in turn, with $0 dollars invested, earn an income from your otherwise under-utilized roof.

How the SMART Program Benefits Businesses

For starters, you no longer need to make a huge capital outlay or find financing for your project. Instead, by hosting solar on your unused roof, you are making money starting day one. By partnering with firms like Pivot Energy that offer simple to understand roof lease options, we pay you to put solar on your property, which Pivot Energy will in turn build, own, and maintain. Pivot leasing your roof directly translates to yearly payments for 20 years, which can range between $5K-50K per year.

As a host site for solar, you unlock a new revenue stream overnight, helping to increase your net-operating-income and making your business greener and more resilient than before. There is no sales cycle, no obligation to maintain the solar array, and you begin to make money as soon as it is installed.   

The History of Massachusetts’ SMART Program

SMART is a state-approved incentive program that has been in existence since it was signed into law by Governor Baker in 2016 and officially launched in 2018. The original goal was to deploy 1,600 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in the state, but as of April 2020, the goal has now doubled to 3,200 MW. In short, it has proved wildly successful, helping Massachusetts advance local clean energy goals, spur cost-effective energy solutions, and allow businesses new avenues to benefit and earn income from solar energy.

This demand also means now is the time act. SMART is a declining Block Program, so as each utility territory interconnects more and more projects, the incentive payouts diminish. This means some of the earliest participants stand to make the most returns, either in the form of utility payments if you own the system or lease payments if you enter a roof lease like Pivot offers³. You can also earn additional payouts if your system is hosted on a low-to-moderate income (LMI) property, or if your system includes energy storage or is sited on brownfield or landfill. While the program and its regulations can be complicated to understand, a qualified solar developer can help make the business case straight-forward. 

How Businesses Can Participate

Right now most businesses are putting together their 2021 business plans, and most are always looking for ways to reduce their operational cost or bring in another revenue stream. The SMART program allows businesses to do both. By leasing your unused roof space, you can create an additional revenue stream and offset the operational costs of your building. The best candidates for the SMART program have a large, unshaded roof with very few obstacles, like HVAC units that could create shading on the array. Additionally, clients of Eversource, National Grid, or Unitil have easy to navigate programs for an experienced solar developer. 

If you are interested in finding out how much revenue your roof could bring in to your business, contact Pivot. Our team of seasoned professionals will lay out your options and how you can start earning long-term income by hosting a solar project, today.  

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¹You can also choose to still net-meter a system, meaning size a system for your onsite usage and either owning or financing a system, while also participating in the SMART program.

²Net metering is how utilities calculate billing offsets for electricity produced by a behind the meter rooftop solar array.

³We can also structure deals where you own the asset or pursue net-metering + SMART.