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Solar news: February 8th, 2019

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, Massachusetts moves forward with a new incentive structure for battery storage, and SunPower begins operations at an old SolarWorld facility.

Massachusetts becomes the first state to include battery storage in energy efficiency incentive programs

As battery storage moves into the mainstream, more policies and incentives are coming to fruition to help property owners offset the upfront costs of the technology. Most recently, the State of Massachusetts approved a new three-year energy efficiency plan that includes incentives for behind-the-meter energy storage.

Specifically, Massachusetts utility ratepayers will be able to enter a five-year contract with their utility that will allow them to be paid at the end of each year based on how much they reduced their electricity use during peak demand times. The incentives being offered are $100/kilowatt-hour (kWh) load reduction for a “targeted” dispatch program and $200/kWh load reduction for a daily dispatch program that cycles batteries more frequently.

One small caveat in the program is that only new battery installations will be eligible for the incentive. While this excludes the small number of MA property owners already taking advantage of batteries, this individual rule can help to increase the new adoption of battery storage fueled by the overall policy. The three-year plan is expected to push forward between 30 and 34 megawatts (MW) of behind-the-meter storage in the state, and will certainly influence policymakers in other states around the county.

SunPower begins manufacturing at old SolarWorld facility in Oregon

High-performance solar panel manufacturer SunPower has begun making advanced solar panels (its “P-Series”) at a newly purchased facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. The manufacturer bought the factory for $26 million from SolarWorld when SolarWorld’s German parent company declared insolvency in 2017.

“With strong U.S. solar demand expected to continue, we are committed to offering our customers the option to buy industry-leading SunPower panels assembled right here at home,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s chief executive. The purchase and ramping up of the new manufacturing facility has coincided with the 2018 Section 201 tariffs on imported solar panels, and by producing panels on U.S. soil, SunPower can avoid the new tariffs.

SunPower currently has about 200 employees, and they have indicated a desire to add more labor as solar panel production ramps up.


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