Monthly Payments for Solar Owners
If you purchased your solar system outright, you may qualify to earn monthly incentive payments through the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program.
This billion-dollar incentive program, jointly sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), Eversource and other Massachusetts utility companies, is expected to be the catalyst for more than 3,200 megawatts of solar energy projects statewide.
SMART Incentive Rate
The SMART incentive rate is determined by DOER when your system is approved for the program. Your solar contractor should be knowledgeable of the SMART regulations and provide you with an estimate of 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
Base Compensation Rate: Determined by the date you applied to the SMART program, where in Massachusetts your system is located and whether you qualify for our low-income discount rate.
SMART uses a capacity block declining compensation schedule. As each capacity block reaches its maximum capacity, newer projects will receive a lower incentive. This means the date of your SMART application directly affects your rate.
Energy Storage Adder: Calculated based on the size of any energy storage system (i.e. battery storage) that you might install.
More solar projects in Massachusetts are taking advantage of this incentive as storage becomes more affordable.
Value of Energy: Estimated savings you're expected to achieve for every kWh of energy produced by your solar system, based on the average cost of electricity you paid over the past 3 years.
This value of energy is subtracted from the SMART incentive calculation to avoid double compensating system owners for the energy they produce.
Once the SMART incentive rate is determined, it is multiplied by the monthly production of your solar system as measured by your Eversource solar meter. Here is an example of this calculation:
SMART Incentive Rate ($0.10721) x Solar Production for the Month (387 kWh) = $41.49 Total SMART Incentive Payment
Your incentive payment is distributed monthly by mail or by direct deposit into your bank account. SMART payments are for 10 years for systems less than 25kW and are in addition to any net metering credits earned on your monthly bill.
Who Owns the System?
If you agreed to a lease or power purchase agreement when you installed your panels, it means you are not the owner of the system even if it's located on your property. In this case, it's likely that a third party will receive the monthly SMART incentive payment, not you.
Payment Timing and Method
Your solar system installer starts the process by submitting a SMART application before installation and then a SMART claim after your system is interconnected to the Eversource grid and approved to operate. Your installer can get more information about applying and installing systems for SMART. You will also need to submit a W-9 tax form and indicate whether you want to receive your incentive payments by check in the mail or electronically (ACH) to your bank account.
You will typically get your first SMART incentive payment about 2 months after Eversource receives confirmation that DOER has approved your claim.
Incentive payments are calculated back to the day your system received permission to operate, so you might receive several months’ worth of incentives for your first payment. You will receive subsequent payments on a monthly basis about six to ten weeks following the end of the solar production period reported on your bill statement. For example, production reported on your bill statement for May would be processed in June for payment in July. Depending on when your solar production meter is read and reported, in some months you may receive more than one month's payment or no payment.
If you want to change your payment method (ACH or check), contact CLEAResult whose contact information is listed below.
You can track the status of your SMART application and claim by asking your installer to add you as a recipient of notifications from the SMART application portal.
Once approved, you will receive an email each month showing how your payment was calculated. You will also be given a PIN to enter on the SMART payment website to quickly view your incentive payment history and details.
Battery Storage Incentive
The SMART program is the first in the nation to provide additional incentives for solar installations that include energy storage. Adding a battery lets you store excess power produced by your solar system for later use and can provide backup power during outages. Plus you can take advantage of additional incentives for using an eligible battery system during times of peak demand.
Battery systems can add significant cost to your solar installation. Consult with your solar installer to determine an eligible storage system that's right for you. DOER requires you to submit your battery performance data annually. Ask your solar installer if they will help with the submission.
Eligible Solar Projects
To qualify, your PV solar energy system must be smaller than 5 MW, connected to the Eversource Massachusetts grid and installed after Jan. 1, 2018.
Your solar installer will help you apply for the SMART program by submitting the program application on your behalf.
The monthly SMART incentive payment is only one part of the total value of your solar installation. You will also benefit from reduced energy bills and any net metering credits for excess energy exported to the grid.
The federal government offers a credit of up to 26% of qualifying residential solar project costs (declining to 22% in 2023, then zero in 2024).
Massachusetts offers personal income tax credits up to $1,000 or 15 percent of qualifying project costs, whichever is less.
Consult with your tax advisor to see if you qualify for these tax credits.
For general questions about your SMART application and claim, please contact the SMART program administrator, CLEAResult, at 888-989-7752 or email MA.SMART@clearesult.com
For questions about your SMART incentive payments, please contact the Eversource solar team at 844-726-7573 or email SMART@eversource.com.