BOSTON — On the summer solstice, the day of the year with the most sunlight, AG Healey released new guidance for residents and small business owners considering solar energy.
Switching to solar may deliver clean renewable energy and help lower electricity bills, but the process can also be confusing and intimidating. The AG’s guidance is designed to help residents and businesses consider which solar option may be a good fit for them. The AG’s guidance also helps customers avoid potential consumer pitfalls when entering into a contract for a solar product.
“On the longest day of the year, and with more summer weather ahead, we want to make sure Massachusetts residents and businesses who are considering solar to power their home or business have the resources that they need,” AG Healey said. “We hope this guidance helps customers select the best solar option for them.”
The guidance was created following a series of workshops the AG’s Office held with the solar industry to discuss best practices to protect consumers and to provide information on their responsibilities under Massachusetts law.
There are three main solar options in Massachusetts – direct ownership, third-party ownership, and community shared solar.
With direct ownership, the customer pays – either through cash or a loan – for the installation of a solar energy system on their property. The customer owns, operates, and is responsible for maintaining the solar energy system. With this option, the customer typically retains sole ownership of the energy, environmental incentives, and tax credits that the system generates.
With third-party ownership, a third-party company installs, owns, and maintains a solar energy system on a customer’s residence or business. Third-party ownership, such as a solar lease or power purchase agreement, can be a good option for customers who are unable to pay up front for a solar energy system. Customers who sign up for a solar lease make monthly payments to the third-party for the right to use the electricity and/or credits that the system generates.
With a power purchase agreement, the customer purchases the electricity that the system generates at an agreed-upon price that typically increases over the term of the contract. Although there are not usually up-front costs with solar leases or a power purchase agreement, customer obligations under these contracts can last for a long time – …….