Hampshire COG Helps Residents with Solar to Earn Money

In 2011, Nat Larson had solar panels installed at his Amherst home for environmental and financial reasons.

Besides saving on his electric bill and gaining tax credits for using solar panels, Larson is also eligible to earn Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) through the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER). He makes money by selling the SRECs to utilities and other suppliers of electricity as a way for those companies to meet state requirements for purchasing and providing “green energy” to their customers.

Larson learned from his solar panel installer that the Hampshire Council of Governments serves as a broker for clients in western Massachusetts in selling their SRECs. He is currently one of more than 120 clients in the Council’s SREC program. For every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity generated from solar panels, the clients earn one SREC.

The Council recently sold some of its clients’ SRECs at an auction sponsored by the DOER at a value of $285 per SREC. Combined, those clients earned $67,830 from the sale. Of that amount, Larson earned $1,650. The selling price per SREC varies depending on the market at the time of sales.

“It’s good to know that I have an organization brokering on my behalf with my best interest coming first,” Larson said. “The Hampshire Council of Governments is very transparent and very approachable. And I think it’s good to keep our purchasing and economic activity local.”

Allowing residents to sell SRECs is a way for the state to provide financial incentives for people to install solar panels. The Council keeps four percent of the money earned from the sale of each client’s SREC, which in turn goes back into its coffers to pay for staff time for the SREC program, said Todd Ford, its executive director.

“Too often, Massachusetts residents have to send their energy dollars out of state when they don’t use local brokers. We are here to change that,” Ford said. “Any revenue that is leftover at the end of the day is reinvested into new programs that strive to serve our core mission: saving taxpayer dollars while strengthening our local economy.”

With more local residents signing up for the Council’s broker services, the organization expects to sell more than 1,000 SREC’s in 2014. The Council has been supporting local solar development through its SREC program since August 2011.

“The Council is working with public and privately funded solar projects in western Massachusetts because solar energy development represents the kind of forward thinking economic development required to help make the transition to a long-term sustainable energy economy,” said Eric Weiss, sustainability director for the Council.

For more information on the Council please visit: www.hampshirecog.org. For additional information on the SREC program, contact Weiss at (413)584-1300, ext.155, (413)687-3356 or eweiss@hampshirecog.org.

Photo courtesy of Elliot Brown via Flickr under Creative Commons License.