Under the second round of Rooftop Solar Challenge (RSCII) the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources is participating in a regional effort targeting non-hardware “soft” costs for photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems and increasing coordination across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. MA DOER and the four other states will tackle a range of barriers to PV deployment, including permitting and interconnection challenges; the need for new financing tools; and planning and zoning rule variations. Some of the states will also work to promote model solar zoning and implement “Solarize” group-purchasing programs - along the lines of the Commonwealth’s Solarize Mass initiative.
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit organization that works with state leaders, federal agencies, industry players, and other stakeholders to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, is coordinating the initiative, termed The New England Solar Cost-Reduction Partnership. CESA has been awarded $1.5 million under the Department of Energy’s “Rooftop Solar Challenge II” program. This effort is working to strengthen the solar market across 13 million residents in 5 states. The partnership will refine and deploy innovations developed in Connecticut and Massachusetts for DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge I, and more widely implement solar best practices from across the region.
The lead state agencies for this project are Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER), the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NH OEP), the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (RI OER), and the Vermont Public Service Department (VT PSD). Additional state agencies, major utilities, and other stakeholders will be key participants in the project.
Massachusetts was awarded a $566,354 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge as one of 22 Rooftop Solar Challenge teams selected from a total of 46 applicants for the period of February 2012 – February 2013. These grants brought together city, county, and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities, and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the nation.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge is part of the SunShot Initiative, which strives to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade, and part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s larger effort to position the United States as a global leader in the rapidly-growing solar market.
In round one of the grant (RSC I), the Massachusetts team – Mass Solar: Making it EZ – used its award to review model permitting processes and develop structural review guidance, create an implementation guide for community shared solar, conduct outreach to community financial institutions, develop model solar zoning bylaw language, and update DOER’s interconnection website. The team’s municipal partners - Boston, Cambridge, Harvard, Hatfield and Winchester – also implemented permitting changes and developed solar guidance documents for their residents.
In addition to DOER and the municipal partners, the Massachusetts RSC I team included the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE), the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS), and MassDevelopment.
Please review the results of our work: