We are the Solar Energy Business Association of New England.

Since 2001, we have been bringing solar businesses together with policy makers and other stakeholders to create a sustainable solar energy economy for New England.

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member spotlight

We love our members! This month's spotlight features solar plus storage projects installed by member companies Borrego Solar Systems, Lodestar Energy, Mass Renewables, New England Clean Energy, RevoluSun, ReVision Energy, SolarFlair Energy, Solect Energy, and SunBug Solar.

By Kas Eslami

March 27, 2019

With the increased penetration of solar in energy markets, the question of how energy storage can and should be coupled with solar and deployed in the U.S is a hot topic in the solar industry. As an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of US workers, and adjusts to the constantly diversifying energy grid, energy storage is now becoming a vital component of the solar energy economy. With the increase in solar energy generation comes the need for lawmakers to decide how to store that energy, and the extent of that solar energy storage.

Here in Massachusetts, solar storage potential increased by nearly 500%, as last year, legislators extended the Commonwealth’s storage target from 200 Megawatt hours by 2020, to 1,000 Megawatt hours by 2025. In response, over 140 applications for solar plus storage projects have been filed since December, 2018. It is also important to note that as of January 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a 3-year energy efficiency plan that makes Massachusetts a leading state regarding energy storage policy.

Various legislators have been key in promoting the proliferation of solar energy generation and storage in Massachusetts. Massachusetts lawmakers like Representative Dykema, Senator Eldridge, and Representative Hinds are among the many legislators that are working to ensure that solar energy’s potential is utilized as an alternative to environmentally- detrimental fossil fuels. These legislators have worked on bills such as S.1957, An Act Increasing Solar Rooftop Energy, S.1958, An Act Transitioning Massachusetts to 100 Percent Renewable Energy, S.1977, An Act Promoting Clean Energy Storage, and H.2843, An Act Removing Barriers to Solar for Low Income Communities, among others.

Applications filed by SEBANE member companies account for 30% of the total solar- plus-storage projects filed under SMART, as well as the equivalent of 30% of the projected total storage hours generated by all of the solar-plus-storage project applications to date. Our member companies currently working on solar-plus-storage projects include: Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., Lodestar Energy LLC, Mass Renewables Inc., New England Clean Energy, RevoluSun, ReVision Energy, SolarFlair Energy, Inc., Solect Energy and SunBug Solar. We look forward to more of our members joining the solar storage movement, and are proud to support and promote our current members working on solar-plus-storage.

Four types of solar-plus-storage configurations are currently approved to qualify for net metering under the DPU order 17-146A: on-site net metering, net metering and exports, non- export, and net generation output metering. Nearly 75% of the applications submitted under these four configuration types were approved by the Department of Public Utilities. By allowing various configurations of solar-plus-storage, the DPU empowers owners of systems with greater access to the power generated by their solar panels. This power is used to provide backup generation, help reduce electricity prices at peak hours, and even incentivize the addition of electric vehicles.

Speaking with Katelyn Ivers of RevoluSun, a SEBANE member company looking to capitalize on this new solar storage target, we gained some insight as to the motivations of these companies and the goals of their storage projects.

Overwhelmingly providing residential solar, RevoluSun aims to provide solar energy through their storage projects to individual homeowners and residential customers. Katelyn posited, regarding their customer base: “Offering storage is a way for RevoluSun to stand out in the market and differentiate ourselves...”, and continued to say, “The incentives behind solar energy storage make solar energy storage both financially viable and realistic.”

With increased storage comes the potential to service individuals with greater efficiency and at lower prices. One of our member companies, Mass Renewables Inc., with 17 solar-plus- storage applications filed under SMART, is providing homeowners from Franklin to Foxborough and throughout the state with clean, solar energy, removing thousands of tons of fossil-fuel electricity-generated emissions from entering our atmosphere.

As Mike Kelly of Mass Renewables says: “Our solar projects are primarily for homeowners—we want homeowners to be able to use more of their solar power on-site...”, saying further, “...solar storage is a good fit when it comes to grid outages—it allows customers to have electricity during blackouts, and is convenient to them.”

New England Clean Energy, another member company of SEBANE, is also working to increase their solar storage projects. While the vast majority of their customers are focused on back-up power provided by solar storage, Mark Durrenberger, president and founder of New England Clean Energy notes: “...there are a few people circulating this unspoken subtext... people with a fairly negative outlook on grid infrastructure—they look at and think of solar- generated electricity in terms of preparedness, and as an investment that protects them from deteriorating fossil-fuel grid infrastructure in the coming years.”

Primarily serving individual homeowners, Mark says the biggest complaint New England Clean Energy has heard over the last 13 years Is: “What do you mean my power doesn’t work during a power outage?” Aiming to address this complaint, New England Clean Energy is striving to bolster solar storage as a method to provide emergency backup power to its customers. But for those with a more positive view on the potential of solar storage, Mark says, “Solar storage provides people the ability to stay in their home during a power outage—to keep their heat running, and their refrigerators cold.”

As Massachusetts solar businesses and legislators continue to lead the way in creating a viable energy storage market, SEBANE will continue to promote their success stories, and work with legislators to ensure both the incentives and the policy and regulatory framework are designed to support the growth and long-term viability of the energy storage market.

If you are a member of SEBANE, send us your success stories! If you are not a member, JOIN US AND CONNECT so we can promote your efforts, and work towards an even more beneficial environment for solar in Massachusetts.

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