Why Connecticut Schools Are Going Solar in 2023

K-12 schools across the United States are switching to solar power to meet their energy needs and sustainability goals. According to data from Generation180, a nonprofit organization promoting clean energy, nearly one in ten public schools now has solar panels, and Connecticut is ranked 8th in the nation for the number of schools with solar. This year, an increase in the number of solar installations at schools in Connecticut is expected, driven by factors such as rising energy prices, favorable federal and state incentives, the state’s commitment to sustainability, and growing demand for solar carports, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy storage solutions.

Rising Energy Prices

Energy is the second largest expense for public K-12 schools after salaries according to a statement from The White House, and skyrocketing energy rates present a budgetary challenge for schools when it is time to renegotiate energy contracts. Many are turning to solar as a solution. By securing a fixed, low rate for 20-25 years, schools can budget confidently and avoid the unpredictability of energy prices. Reporting by The New York Times shows that some school districts are experiencing higher than expected savings from solar because of these rising rates.   

Favorable Federal and State Incentives

The federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides organizations with the economic motivation to go solar while helping the nation reach its climate goals. It modifies and extends the solar investment tax credit (ITC) including offering tax-exempt entities, such as public schools, the option to obtain the tax credit in the form of a grant that can be used to fund school resource needs. The potential to stack bonus credits onto the base 30% ITC means potentially lower power purchase agreement rates for schools. 

The Non-Residential Renewable Energy Solutions (NRES) program is a statewide, six-year solar program that supports Connecticut’s goal of carbon-free electricity generation by 2040. Launched in 2022, the program offers generous solar incentives for organizations and property owners to transition to low-cost renewable energy. Program updates for 2023 make participating in NRES easier and more lucrative. 

Solar Carports, EV-Charging stations, and Energy Storage Solutions

Solar carports, EV-charging, and energy storage are predicted to contribute to the growth of solar projects at schools. Solar carports provide protection from the elements, extend the life of the asphalt, improve the appearance of the parking area, and visually demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. The updated NRES program now offers prioritization for solar carport projects. Plus, these carports can be integrated with EV-charging. Energy storage can be added to a solar rooftop or carport installation to maximize renewable energy use, power critical loads during an outage, and reduce costly demand charges. Costs for energy storage projects are included in the ITC as part of the IRA, and NRES offers an incentive for storage-only projects. 

Third-Party Partnerships Provide Widespread Access

Connecticut schools can benefit from the nonprofit PowerOptions Consortium, the largest energy buying consortium for nonprofits and the public sector in New England. PowerOptions offers schools a low-fixed rate, favorable terms, and efficient, confident contracting through their competitive procurement and pre-negotiated PPA for an on-site solar and energy storage project. 

Schools are going solar through third-party partnerships using power purchase agreements (PPAs) that remove the barrier of upfront costs and help schools see immediate energy cost savings. Under these agreements, solar companies pay for solar systems up front, along with installation, monitoring, and maintenance. In return for housing the system, schools buy electricity at reduced rates, and can redirect the savings toward classrooms or facilities upkeep. According to Generation180, these agreements have been used to pay for nearly 90 percent of total solar capacity at schools across the nation. 

School Solar Progress in 2023

With rising energy costs, generous federal and state incentives, state sustainability goals, and popular technologies, it will be interesting to see how many more schools reduce their energy footprint with solar and storage in 2023. 

To learn more about solar for your organization or to schedule a no obligation consultation with Solect Energy, you can contact us by email info@solect.com, phone 855.800.4211 (press 1), or click on the button below. 



Why Solar Carports Now Have More Financial Upside in Massachusetts Than Before

For years, savvy businesses in Massachusetts have been transforming their parking areas into assets that reduce costs and generate revenue by installing solar carports. These elevated canopy structures with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels produce clean, renewable energy that can be used on-site or sent back to the grid. Two recent occurrences have made the financial decision of adding a solar carport a no-brainer for business owners. 

  1. National Grid and Eversource have announced massive electric rate increases; the impact of these new rates have already started to appear on your electric bills. Low-cost renewable energy from a solar canopy on your property could protect your business’ bottom line from these volatile energy prices by providing power for your operations.
  2. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 increased the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) to 30% and created bonus incentives including an additional 10% tax credit for using American-made parts. Since Solect Energy is able to source American-made parts for our solar canopy projects, certain projects are eligible for a total federal tax credit of 40%, 50%, or more! Think about it. A 40% tax credit on a $1,000,000 solar project investment translates into a $400,000 tax credit. That’s money that could be invested in other aspects of your business. 

Additional Ways a Solar Carport Creates Real Value for Your Business

In addition to reducing the impact of sky-high utility rates and providing a huge tax credit, there are other ways that a solar carport creates real value for your business. 

  • The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, which compensates Massachusetts solar system owners through a monthly utility payment at a fixed rate over 20 years for the solar electricity they provide to the grid, offers an increased incentive award (an “adder”) for solar carports because of their efficient use of space. 
  • Energy storage could be added to your solar carport installation to maximize renewable energy use, power critical loads during an outage, and reduce costly demand charges. This is an especially beneficial solution for Massachusetts ratepayers who experience some of the highest demand charges in the country. Plus, the SMART program offers an adder for battery storage too! 
  • A solar carport can be integrated with an EV-charging solution which provides convenient access to EV charging for employees and customers, and could help your organization comply with the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Building Standards in Massachusetts general laws and building regulations. 
  • A solar carport provides protection from the elements by shading vehicles on hot days, and sheltering employees and customers from rain, sleet, and snow. In addition, it could extend the life of the asphalt by protecting it from the elements. 
  • A solar carport improves the appearance of a parking area, and visually demonstrates your organization’s commitment to sustainability since the solar carport produces clean, renewable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions.  Employees and customers value organizations with cultures that emphasize investing in the environment.

Solarize Your Parking Area!

Now is an especially good time to add a solar canopy to an existing parking area at your organization due to the compelling financial upside along with other tangible benefits. To learn more or to schedule a no obligation consultation with Solect Energy, click here or you can contact us by email info@solect.com, phone 855.800.4211 (press 1), or click on the button below. 

Solar Installations at Marlborough Public Schools Generate Electricity Savings

MARLBOROUGH, MA—City officials join executives from Enel X, Solect Energy and PowerOptions to celebrate Kane Elementary School (173 kW), the first in four rooftop solar systems set to go live this year. The installation at Kane went live in August and is producing electricity that will be reflected as savings on the City’s electric bills going forward. The remaining solar arrays are located at Jaworek Elementary School (211.7 kW), Goodnow Elementary (297.8kW), and Marlborough High School (299.50 kW).


“We are able to achieve 80% solar usage with these systems that were installed at no cost. We continue to seek ways to save our taxpayers money through sustainability programs,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant.

The four systems were developed and installed by Solect Energy and procured with a behind-the-meter Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through the PowerOptions Solar Program. The PPA allows the solar to be installed at the schools at no cost to the City of Marlborough. The electricity generated from the arrays will be purchased and consumed by the schools at a significantly discounted rate versus grid-supplied power.

“Marlborough is demonstrating great environmental leadership with these projects, as an example to other communities and also to their students who will see first-hand the benefits of cleaner, renewable energy,” said Heather Takle, President and CEO of PowerOptions. “Massachusetts has set ambitious carbon emission reduction goals, and the City’s projects move us all one step closer to a greener future.”

“From the start of our engagement with conservation, public works, the mayor’s office, and the school committee, it was clear that the City had a vision to implement solar energy to power its buildings. We’re proud to have developed and installed these projects and will maintain them so they deliver the value as expected” said Matt Shortsleeve, Vice President of Development at Solect Energy.

Since its designation as a “Green Community” by the state of Massachusetts in 2010, the City of Marlborough has been dedicated to making progress to build a greener and more sustainable community. With the addition of solar panels on the four public schools, the City will be increasing the amount of municipal electricity energy usage from solar to 80% (with 60% coming from solar net-metering agreements).

“Massachusetts continues to lead the way towards a more sustainable future and it’s encouraging to see two of the Commonwealth’s top industries, education and clean energy, come together and champion the region’s innovation economy,” said Phil Martin, Vice President, Battery Storage, Enel X North America. “The Marlborough Public Schools solar arrays will help reduce emissions and deliver significant energy cost savings for the school system over the life of the projects, at no up-front cost to the City.”Over the life of the solar systems, the City of Marlborough expects to save approximately $1 million and avoid more than 16,800 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

For more information, please contact Solect Energy at 508-598-3511.


Hopkinton-Based Solect Energy Makes Multi-Year Funding Commitment to Local Nonprofit and Challenges Local Donors to do the Same

Live4Evan, a nonprofit organization founded in the memory of Hopkinton’s Evan Girardi launches five-year fundraising campaign to house more families seeking treatment for their child’s congenital heart defect in Boston. Their local board finds their first campaign donor in Hopkinton-based, Solect Energy.

HOPKINTON,  April 10, 2021 —- Live4Evan provides temporary housing in Boston, MA for families with children being treated for congenital heart disease at a nearby hospital. Due to the overwhelming need and extremely high occupancy rate, Live4Evan launched the Housing for Heart Heroes campaign in 2021. The Housing for Heart Heroes campaign is a five-year, $450,000 campaign to more than triple the number of units available to house families and end the waitlist for temporary housing for families coming to Boston to support their child’s treatment.

In April 2021, Hopkinton-based Ken Driscoll, CEO and Co-Founder of Solect Energy, stepped up and made a multi-year commitment to the campaign, while encouraging other local donors to do the same.

“Live4Evan harnesses all of the great energy of the Hopkinton-community and Solect Energy is proud to be a part of their efforts to support more families seeking treatment for their child’s congenital heart defect at Boston’s hospitals” Ken Driscoll said.  “We are so committed to their efforts, we will match any donation to Live4Evan’s Housing for Heart Heroes campaign from other Hopkinton-based donors up to $5,000 per year, totaling $25,000.”

Jack Nealon, a good friend of Evan Girardi’s from childhood and one of the Founders of Live4Evan says commitments like this from local companies are critical to the success of their ability to provide housing to more families. “We are so proud to partner with Ken, Jim, Craig and the rest of the Solect Energy team to issue the Solect Challenge to our community.  At any given time, there are as many as 40 families on the waitlist for housing while their child is being treated at a Boston-based hospital. The challenge grant from Solect Energy will go a long way to helping us reduce the number of families on that waitlist” says Jack Nealon, Executive Director at Live4Evan.


About Live4Evan

Live4Evan was founded in honor of Evan Girardi, who was born on October 4, 1989 with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Despite a difficult diagnosis and spending countless weeks and months at Boston Children’s Hospital, Evan lived his life to the fullest and gave everything he could to others in his life. In 2010, at the age of 20, Evan passed away from his heart condition. Rather than allow Evan’s passing to put an end to the life and legacy that Evan’s energy built, his friends and family formed Live4Evan to serve as a testament to the power of relationships and the importance of having loved ones by your side. Contact Jack Nealon at jack.nealon@live4evan.org or visit www.live4evan.org for more information.

About Solect Energy

Solect Energy is one of the largest commercial solar developers in Massachusetts, and the tenth-largest in the country. The company helps commercial and industrial businesses, state governments, cities and towns, public and private schools, higher education institutions, and nonprofits in New England transform the way they manage and optimize energy. Solect’s services include financing, design, engineering, installation, operations and maintenance, and system monitoring. Products include rooftop, canopy and ground-mounted solar energy systems; and battery storage systems that provide electricity during power outages and help businesses save money when utility prices are at a premium.

The company has installed more than 120 MegaWatts of solar on more than 550 facilities, helping business owners improve their financial positions with solar. The company’s service business, which ensures optimal system performance, has a 99% renewal rate. Based in Hopkinton, Mass., Solect was founded in 2009 and employs 70 people. Visit www.solectenergy.com for more information.

Governor Baker Signs Landmark Climate Legislation into Law

On Friday, March 26, Massachusetts took a major step forward in the fight against climate change when Governor Charlie Baker signed S-9, An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy into law. It is the most far-reaching climate legislation since the Green Communities Acts of 2008 and sets the Commonwealth on its goal to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.  The Act addresses a wide range of climate issues from the three main sources of greenhouse gas pollution: energy generation, transportation, and buildings.

The new policy is revolutionary and sets Massachusetts on track to achieve some very ambitious climate goals, including, but not limited to:

  1. Increases Massachusetts’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3% per year from 2025-2029
  2. Removes net metering caps on 25kW-2MW systems
  3. Requires Municipal Light Departments to procure 50% of its power generated from renewable energy sources by 2030
  4. Calls for consistent property tax guidelines for solar projects
  5. Procures an additional 2,400 Megawatts (MW) of new offshore wind energy by 2027
  6. Prioritizes and provides more equitable access to renewable energy and industry job training for environmental justice populations
  7. Commits $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for the development of green jobs
  8. Establishes home appliance energy efficiency and new building construction standards

Regulators from multiple agencies will now establish and implement regulations and guidelines to carry out the new laws and targets set forth by this Act.

For the business community, cities, towns, school districts, and nonprofits, one of the biggest opportunities this new law presents is greater access to low-cost renewable energy. Onsite solar and energy storage, or offsite projects that provide SMART Alternative On-Bill Credits (AOBCs) or net metering credits, are viable and now more broadly available throughout the Commonwealth.

CEO and Co-Founder of Solect Energy Ken Driscoll thanks the legislature and all of the renewable energy advocates who crafted this bill, as well as commends Governor Charlie Baker for signing this landmark climate Act, saying, “This is a revolutionary piece of legislation that prioritizes transitioning to renewable energy sources, like solar and energy storage technology, and requires the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It is one of the most ambitious climate bills I’ve seen, and it truly shows the state’s commitment to the health, safety, and future of those in Massachusetts.”

Town of Winchester Takes Action Against Climate Change, Installing Three New Solar PV Systems with Solect Energy

WINCHESTER, Mass., Mar. 23, 2021 – Solect Energy has completed the installation of three different rooftop solar energy systems totaling over 273 kW in the Town of Winchester, Town Manager Lisa Wong announced today.

The installations are located at the Winchester Vinson Owen School (69kW DC), Winchester Department of Public Works (76kW DC), and Winchester High School (127kW DC) and are owned by Safari Energy. All three systems are behind-the-meter Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which means that the Town consumes the energy generated at the building, and instead of purchasing the systems, it purchases the solar energy at a low, fixed-rate, displacing a portion of electricity delivered by the utility.

Commercial Solar PV Systems - Winchester, MA Commercial Solar PV Systems - Winchester, MA Commercial Solar PV Systems - Winchester, MA

Like dozens of other Solect PPA Customers, the Town of Winchester became a member of PowerOptions, New England’s largest energy-buying consortium, to leverage its Solar and Storage Program procurement. Through the program, the town was able to contract the three solar PPAs without having to conduct a separate bid.  Rather, the Town utilized the PowerOptions Solar Program with Solect Energy, saving significant time and effort and resulting in considerable savings for the Town.

“The Town of Winchester wanted to add rooftop solar arrays to suitable town and school buildings to put our Climate Action Plan into action and also reduce energy costs. It was challenging to balance the sustainability goals with operations and maintenance needs. Solect listened and partnered with town officials and multiple-member committees with expertise, patience, and creativity. As the town identifies other locations for solar projects, Solect would be on our list to work with again,” said Susan Verdicchio, former School Committee Chair and current Select Board member for the Town of Winchester.

The installation of the solar systems is just one of the many things the Town of Winchester is doing to continue its long history of environmental activism and community betterment. Since 2010, Winchester has been a designated Green Community and dedicatedly taken actions to become more energy-efficient, reduce its carbon footprint, and fight climate change, including:

  • Subscribing to Community Solar
  • Becoming a Lead by Example Community
  • Joining the MASSCEC Heat Smart Program
  • Passing a Climate Action Plan this past June, which seeks to reduce carbon pollution and enhance community resilience.

“The Town of Winchester’s commitment to going green is truly inspiring. The three solar systems that Solect installed will not only further their efforts, but it will provide substantial savings on their utility bills and serve as an excellent educational tool for students and the community,” said Solect Energy’s Vice President of Development Matt Shortsleeve.

The rooftop arrays will produce approximately 3,000 MWh expected to save the Town of Winchester approximately $525,000 in their electric savings plus PILOT payments over the next 20 years.

Together, Solect Energy and PowerOptions have reduced energy costs with over 80 solar or solar + energy storage projects to serve PowerOptions members including cities, towns, schools, state agencies, and nonprofits across Massachusetts.


About PowerOptions

Established in 1998, PowerOptions is New England’s largest non-profit consortium for energy and sustainability, helping nonprofits and the public sector achieve energy cost savings and environmental goals. With more than 450 members, we leverage our collective strength to negotiate extremely favorable energy supply and services. As a nonprofit, PowerOptions’ mission is to save our members time and money, and any nonprofit or public entity is eligible to join and benefit from programs for electricity & natural gas supply, solar & renewables, and electric transportation & sustainability planning. For more information, go to www.poweroptions.org.

About Solect Energy

Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Mass., is the tenth-largest commercial solar developer in the country. Solect helps commercial and industrial businesses, state government, cities and towns, and nonprofits in New England transform the way they manage and optimize energy. The company’s services include solar financing, design, engineering, installation, operations and maintenance, 24/7 system monitoring, and utility bill monitoring. Products include rooftop and canopy solar energy systems, and solar energy storage systems that can provide electricity during power outages, and the ability to use stored solar when utility prices are at a premium. Solect was founded in 2009 and employs 70 people.

About Safari Energy

Safari Energy, LLC is the solar partner of choice for commercial and industrial customers, real estate owners, public sector organizations and solar developers seeking competitive financial solutions for their projects. Headquartered in New York City, Safari Energy has helped customers unlock enormous economic value and drive significant energy savings by developing hundreds of solar energy projects from Massachusetts to Hawaii. With extensive interdisciplinary expertise, Safari supports the growth of distributed energy resources and PPL Corporation’s focus on advancing a sustainable energy future. www.safarienergy.com

Congress Extends 26% Investment Tax Credit

As of December 21, 2020, Congress passed a federal spending package that extended the 26% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for two years. Originally, the ITC was set to step down on the first of January 2021 from 26% to 22%, posing a significant 4% drop in tax incentives for those considering investing in solar. The extension of the ITC demonstrates a bipartisan willingness and commitment to providing relief to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and aid in the stabilization of the economy through clean energy and renewables.

Investment Tax Credit Extension

Chief Development Officer and Co-Founder of Solect Energy Craig Huntley sees this as an encouraging step in the future of clean energy, saying “Congress’s decision to extend the 26% tax credit for solar and renewable projects is promising and highlights the U.S.’s ever-growing demand for sustainable, cost-effective energy sources. I believe that by incentivizing Americans to invest in green energy, while also providing much-needed economic relief during this difficult time provides a great opportunity to expand jobs, improve savings, and provide a better environment for everyone.”

Included in the recently approved federal spending package is the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act, which for the next five years will provide meaningful funding to serve as the impetus for the expansion of energy storage research and development.

Commercial Solar Benefits with Massachusetts SMART

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Go Solar in Massachusetts

As many public entities and businesses struggle through the current health and economic crisis, we’re excited to share some positive news for those in Massachusetts: new solar incentives are available and better than ever!