What Is The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program?October 18, 2021
UPDATE – Massachusetts Doubles The SMART Program! (1/24/22)
In late December 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved an order doubling the Massachusetts SMART Program’s solar capacity from 1600 to 3200 MW. The official order came after months of delays and began taking effect on January 14, 2022.
The order gives the state a better chance at reaching its lofty “2030 emissions limit of at least 50% below the 1990 baseline,” and further onto to its MA Decarbonization Roadmap goals, which are as follows:
To achieve long-term emission reduction goals within the Commonwealth, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is undertaking a planning process to identify cost-effective and equitable strategies to ensure Massachusetts reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 85% by 2050 and achieves net-zero emissions. (source: mass.gov)
To learn more about the Massachusetts SMART Program, please continue reading our original article and breakdown below. We have updated the numbers to reflect the new information as reported.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE – 10/18/21
The Massachusetts community and state are making major strides when it comes to integrating solar power and other renewable energy sources into our daily lives and economy. As such, the state has done its part to push forward progressive solar programs and incentives.
Today, let’s explore one of the many solar programs in Massachusetts; the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (or SMART) Program.
What Is The SMART Program?
Back in 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources enacted an initiative to support the development of solar installations throughout the state, the SMART Program.
According to Mass.gov, “The SMART Program is a 3,200 MW declining block incentive program. Eligible projects must be interconnected by one of three investor-owned utility companies in Massachusetts: Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. Each utility has established blocks that decline in incentive rates between each block.”
One of the top benefits of joining SMART is that the program pays to participate solar owners a predictable price every month for their system’s energy production.
The original goal of this program was to support a targeted 1600 MW (megawatts) of solar installations throughout Massachusetts, which has since been doubled (see our update at the top of this page)*.
How Does The SMART Program Work?
Essentially, the SMART Program allows solar system owners to receive fixed-rate monthly incentive payments through their utility companies. The currently participating companies are:
- National Grid
Each of these companies has been given a capacity block (in megawatts) determined by the number of customers they serve. These blocks have been distributed from the initial 3200 MW target.
Each of these capacity blocks is locked at certain incentive rates. Once one block has been completely filled by approved SMART applicants, the company then moves to the next block, with a lower incentive rate. So, it’s important to remember that there is a sense of urgency when applying for the SMART Program.
How Can You Apply For The SMART Program?
According to Eversource, in order to receive incentive payments through the SMART Program, you must own your solar system outright. This means that leased or financed systems may not qualify for the program. According to the official SMART Program website, the application process is as follows:
- Gather Required Documentation And Agreements
- Apply via Online Portals
- Preliminary Statement of Qualification
- Install And Interconnect Your System
- Submit Your Claim
- Receive Final Statement of Qualification And Begin Receiving Payments
After Qualification, How Much Can I Expect To Receive?
There are a few factors to consider when estimating your incentive rate. Mostly, this incentive is determined by the DOER at the time of approval. This determination is based on your solar system’s output capacity and which capacity block your application falls into at the time, among other considerations.
Eversource also has a great formula for estimating your incentive rate.
For systems under 25 kW, DOER determines the SMART incentive rate using this formula:
Base Compensation Rate + Storage Adder – Value of Energy = SMART incentive rate
Energy Storage Adder
If you own a solar battery storage system, these additions (or “adders”) can be included in your application and potential monthly incentive payment.
Want Further Information?
While we have provided a brief overview of the Massachusetts SMART Program in this blog, it is a very complex and comprehensive statewide energy program. If you would like to continue your research in the SMART Program, please be sure to visit the official website of the SMART Program and Mass.gov for more detailed information, including local policies and regulations.
And, of course, if you have any questions at all or would like an explanation from a local solar expert, please contact our offices today and we’ll be sure to break the SMART Program down for you in a comprehensive, yet simple manner.