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Solar news: August 9th, 2019

In this week’s Solar News Roundup: bills in Massachusetts mimic California’s new solar mandate, and a SEPA report on energy storage deployment by utility.

Massachusetts may emulate California with new construction law for solar

Following the recent California solar mandate legislation that requires all new homes built after January 1st, 2020 to include a solar installation, Massachusetts currently has two bills moving through the state legislature that propose a similar requirement. Bills SB 1957 and SB 1995 call for rooftop panels on residential and commercial construction, as well as panels on new or renovated state-owned buildings, respectively. There are exceptions in both bills for buildings that have shading or physical barriers to making solar viable.

Massachusetts is about one-fourth of the way to achieving its carbon emissions reduction goal of 80 percent by the year 2050. Measures like a new construction solar bill are necessary to meet this ambitious goal – as Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, explains, “We need to get to a point where just about every rooftop that can have solar on it in Massachusetts does.”

Some are worried about the potential cost implications that requiring solar panels on new construction may have. “We are concerned that bills mandating solar panels for new construction will increase the cost of housing, further exacerbating Massachusetts’ severe and longstanding housing affordability crisis,” said Justin Davidson, the government affairs director for the MA Association of Realtors. Other concerns, including about the readiness of the state’s solar workforce to handle the influx of projects, will likely continue to be at the forefront of debate over these bills as they continue to move through the legislature.

Hawaii and Massachusetts lead the U.S. in battery storage capacity per customer

California is the clear-cut leader in solar and storage deployment in the U.S., but not on a per-customer basis. According to the latest Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) report on utility storage, the leaders in energy storage installations per capita are Hawaii and Massachusetts.

In Hawaii, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) leads the way, with 3,037.6 watt-hours per customer (Wh/C) of battery storage installed. The utility is expected to source more than half of its power from renewables this year. In addition to KIUC, the Hawai’i Electric Light Company and the Hawaiian Electric Company (collectively the HECO Companies) are both in the top ten utilities in the country in terms of Wh/C.

Several Massachusetts municipal utilities, including the Sterling Municipal Light Department, the City of Holyoke, and the Braintree Electric Light Department, bring the state up to number two in the country for storage per capita.


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