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Solar-energy investments are paying off in Mass.

After decades of promise, solar energy is finally becoming more available in Massachusetts, through a wise use of government subsidies. The state is driving down costs by providing financial incentives for homeowners to install solar panels, and for utilities to buy back the electricity that they generate.

Under the programs Solarize Massachusetts and Commonwealth Solar, which made their final installations of the year this month, residents and businesses bought or leased solar equipment at subsidized prices, then sold any unused power back to an electric company. The total amount of state expenditures — $5.7 million in 2012 — was relatively high, but as more homes and businesses convert to solar energy, others will be compelled to try it, creating the economies of scale necessary to drive down the price.

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