Solar in Boston, MA
Boston, MA is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial “Capital of New England” for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city of Boston proper has a population of around 620,000 while the larger Boston metropolitan area is home to about 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Boston and the surrounding region as a commuting region includes six Massachusetts counties: Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Worcester, northern Bristol County, all of Rhode Island and parts of New Hampshire; it is home to 7.6 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States. More importantly for those interested in solar in Massachusetts, Boston was included one of the “Solar America Cities” by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Boston helps to defeat the myth that solar power only works in warm climates. Since residents of Massachusetts pay some of the highest utility rates in the nation, utility experts expect that Boston will be one of the first areas in the nation where solar power achieves parity with conventional energy technologies. As a part of the Solar America program, Boston plans to maximize solar technology’s role in its planning, educational, and emergency preparedness policies by installing solar technologies, both solar electric and solar thermal (solar water and space heating), on feasible and appropriate locations around the city. In this project, Boston will identify and address barriers to widespread solar deployment, and will develop a strategy for achieving Mayor Menino’s goal of installing 25 MW of solar energy throughout Boston by 2015:
- Create an online map of current local renewable energy projects, with a tool to allow building owners to calculate their rooftop solar potential. The map is currently live here.
- Support the City’s Green Affordable Housing Program (GAHP), in partnership with the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). Under GAHP, the City is installing over 150 kW of PV on 200 units of affordable housing. DND requires that all new City-funded affordable housing be LEED Silver certifiable and built solar-ready.
- Coordinate resources and best practices with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, local utilities, the electrical workers’ union, the solar industry, and non-governmental organizations.
- Market solar energy to potential sites.
- Explore innovative financing strategies in order to facilitate the bulk purchase, financing, and installation of solar energy technologies.
In addition to the DOE program, Massachusetts has dedicated over $160 million to support renewable energy and investments in solar energy through the state Commonwealth Solar program. As a result, MA solar energy has really surged as the number of installed commercial and residential solar energy systems growing dramatically…Massachusetts has seen year-over-year growth of grid connected PV installations of approximately 171%. Not bad for a cold climate.