The Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs is offering $30 million in a low-interest loan program aimed at encouraging residential solar projects.

“When we support our solar industry, we are choosing to shape our future rather than leave it to chance,” Gov. Deval Patrick. “These programs will allow the solar industry in Massachusetts to continue to flourish and will make solar energy more accessible for residents.”

The $30 million residential solar loan program will be funded with Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP). ACP funds are paid by electric retail suppliers if they have insufficient renewable or alternative energy certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is working with partners and stakeholders to develop the program, which is expected to launch this spring 2014 when the state’s final solar regulations are announced.

DOER will be reaching out to the residential solar market, banks, credit unions and other financial entities in the coming weeks to review and finalize the loan program. DOER anticipates implementing the program and the flow of loans to the residential market to begin this summer or fall.

The new solar regulations, phase two of the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program, are designed to meet the state’s goal of installing 1,600 megawatts of solar power by 2020. The program aims to ensure steady annual growth, control ratepayer costs, and encourage ground-mounted solar projects on landfills and Brownfields and atop residential roofs.

“Investing in solar is a win for both our economy and our environment. This investment, in particular, will help spur the residential solar market,” said Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “Instead of drilling or mining for our power, we'll be using our rooftops to fuel future growth.”

Currently, 348 of the state’s 351 cities and towns have solar installed in their community, and Massachusetts was ranked fourth nationally in new solar capacity installed in 2013. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts No. 1 in the country three years running.

The state’s clean-energy revolution is also yielding economic benefits, with 11.8 percent job growth in the past year and 24 percent growth in the past two years, according to the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Source: EcoRI