Solar Contracting & Best Practices


Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning

Solar Contracting & Best Practices

MAPC supports communities wishing to invest in solar energy through regional procurement projects, solar energy management contract development, solar permitting and zoning support, and educational events. Solar energy management contracts are long-term service agreements between communities and developers and include system design, financing, installation, operations, maintenance, long-term lease of public space, electricity, and a system performance guarantee.

Contact the Clean Energy Team for more information.

A community entering into a solar EMS contract is responsible for hosting the PV system on a municipally-owned site and purchasing all of the electricity generated by the PV system.

The benefit to the community is a long-term guarantee for solar energy production at a determined price schedule without the risks of ownership. The developer owns the PV system and generates revenue by selling electricity to the community and monetizing the tax incentives and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) associated with solar electricity generation.

Program Spotlight:

MAPC's Regional Solar Initiative

In 2012, MAPC facilitated a regional procurement process under Ch. 25A with support from The Cadmus Group for solar energy management services (EMS) on behalf of 17 cities and towns in the MAPC region. The cities and towns that participated in the process included Belmont, Beverly, Boxborough, Brookline, Chelsea, Hudson, Lincoln, Marlborough, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Reading, Sherborn, Wayland, Weston, Weymouth, and Winthrop. Representatives from several of these municipalities formed a selection committee to rank the respondents and select the top-ranked developer with whom the participating communities are eligible to enter into individual solar EMS agreements.

Read an Overview of the 2012 Procurement here and download the Regional Solar RFQ here.

A community shared solar (CSS) arrangement provides the benefits of a solar photovoltaic system to multiple participants.

In Massachusetts, these benefits generally come in the form of net metering credits - the energy produced by the CSS system is sold to the energy grid for credits, which are then distributed among participants in the shared solar agreement.

Community shared solar offers opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, renters, and homeowners whose rooftops are unsuitable for solar to invest in renewable energy and receive the cost savings on their monthly utility bill or through an online portal. Projects do not need to be sited in the community they are serving – instead, rooftop installations, solar canopies, or installations on public or private land can be located anywhere in the same utility territory and load zone as the community.

Municipal Program Spotlight:

Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative

Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative (CoSSI) is a cooperative pilot program run by the City of Newton, its solar developer Ameresco, energy provider Eversource, and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). Newton’s approach to CSS enables the City to spread the financial benefits of their municipal solar canopy project to low-income residents in the community.

Learn more about how this model works in action on the Planning101 blog and the City of Newton’s website.



Increasing Access Part II: Expanding Access to Community Shared Solar In Your Community, June 2017. WATCH or DOWNLOAD

Increasing Access: Low Income Community Shared Solar 101, April 2017. WATCH or DOWNLOAD

Solar Webinar IV: Managing Your Solar, September 2015. WATCH or DOWNLOAD

Solar Webinar III: Community Shared Solar Models, September 2015. WATCH or DOWNLOAD


Community Shared Solar Implementation Guidelines for Massachusetts Communities; Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. READ

Fact sheet on Procurement Models for Public Community Shared Solar in Massachusetts; Cadmus Group. READ