Solar's popularity is growing in Massachusetts. That’s the finding of a new poll released on Dec. 19 from Princeton Research Associates, which follows up on a poll the organization did earlier this year. The poll shows that now 67 percent of all voters in Massachusetts believe that the solar industry is important to the commonwealth’s economy, up from 57 percent in June 2013. The polls come after Gov. Deval Patrick (D) announced that in reaction to the state’s success with solar power that it would quadruple the amount of solar power planned for its grid network.
The poll also shows that 40 percent of the 500 respondents to the poll conducted between Dec. 5 and 9 believe that the solar power industry is very important to the economy—up from 27 percent in June. Previously more people thought that solar was somewhat important to the economy (30 percent in June) compared to 27 percent in the recent poll. The number of people who think that solar is not at all important to the state’s economy fell from 12 percent in June to 8 percent in December. All figures are showing that more people are increasingly realizing the value of solar to the statewide economy there.
The state celebrated 250 megawatts of solar energy installed earlier this year—reaching its goal four years ahead of time. That’s when Gov. Patrick announced even more ambitious plans for solar in the state, 1.6 gigawatts of solar energy installed by the end of the year. The poll found that 59 percent of respondents supported Patrick’s initiative to expand solar.
“Massachusetts has made a significant investment in solar, becoming a national leader in terms of effective, progressive policies that benefit the state’s economy, its citizens and the environment,” said Carrie Cullen-Hitt, senior vice president of State Affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which released the poll. “We are pleased that as a result of these important solar initiatives, an increasing number of Massachusetts voters are now seeing the direct benefit of solar in their lives and in their local communities.”
The state’s solar ambitions and rebates and incentives are part of what makes the state on of the top states for residential solar in the country.The solar industry has been responding accordingly with more installations. According to GTM Research and SEIA’s recent Solar Market Insight report Massachusetts was fourth in terms of third quarter 2013 solar installations. Not bad for a state that’s less than a tenth the size of California.
The new poll also shows that well over half (57 percent) of Massachusetts residents are seeing the direct benefits of solar power, including tax revenue, energy savings and land use in their cities and towns. “More and more Massachusetts municipalities are recognizing the benefits of solar power, and with good reason,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “New Bedford’s solar installations have helped create local jobs, re-purposed formerly contaminated properties, and saved taxpayers millions in electricity costs.”
The percentage of residents with solar on their homes also increased to 9 percent in December from 5 percent in June. And an increasing number of residents 39 percent now believe that solar power in the state is less expensive than power from oil or gas, only 15 percent think solar is more expensive. Similarly more people (42 percent) in the state believe that everyone in the state benefits from state solar incentives than just those (26 percent) who think that only those who can afford solar benefit from the incentives.