Joe Harrison had his hands full trying to keep up with business installing solar panels last year.
“It was crazy,” said Harrison, a senior project developer for Borrego Solar, a company that installs solar systems around the country. Borrego was one of the largest developers of solar power projects in Massachusetts last year.
In fact, business soared at many companies putting up solar panels in Massachusetts last year. Only three states — California, Arizona, and North Carolina — installed more solar generating capacity in 2013, according to a report prepared for the Solar Energy Industry Association.
The Massachusetts solar boom more than doubled the state’s entire capacity in one year, to 462 megawatts. Along the way, Boston also became one of the nation’s leading solar-power cities.
Development flared last year as those in the solar industry rushed to ensure their projects would qualify for a lucrative state tax incentive that was about to expire. By year-end, the solar generating capacity in Massachusetts had far exceeded what the state originally hoped to have installed by 2017.
“As we got closer to that [incentive deadline], everybody started working double-time on projects,” Harrison said.
Falling solar prices, Harrison said, combined with the state’s incentive program, have helped boost the industry. When he started in the business six years ago, projects cost about $9 per watt to install. It’s much cheaper today.
“I recently sold a project for $2 a watt,” Harrison said.
Solar has been a priority for the Patrick administration for the last several years. Since the state blew past its original goal far ahead of schedule, Governor Deval Patrick now hopes Massachusetts can reach a new target of 1,600 megawatts by 2020.
Harrison doesn’t see the industry slowing down anytime soon. “You basically have the best policy environment that there is in the country,” he said.