Consumer Attitudes Towards Residential Photovoltaic Power In Western Massachusetts

Will Carswell, School for International Training


This case study investigated the phenomenon of consumer adoption of domestic, grid-tied solar power systems in residences in Western Massachusetts. Through interviews with both users and non-users of domestic solar power systems, this study has sought to answer the question, “Are there consumer attitudes towards domestic solar power systems that present barriers to market adoption by the “Early Majority” in Western Massachusetts?” Additionally, this study has attempted to help determine the efficacy of current state government incentives for solar installations in Massachusetts, and what additional efforts and improvements to solar power systems need to be made to facilitate market adoption.

This study shows that affordability is the primary obstacle to the adoption of solar power technology by the early majority in Western Massachusetts. Residents of Western Massachusetts, including those who have already received state funded rebates for their photovoltaic solar power systems, have very little awareness of the rebates for solar installations available from the state and don’t know where to find information about the rebates. This study suggests that to achieve a multiplier effect for the marketing and actual rebate dollars it has invested, the State needs to do more than make money available for rebates—it needs to invest specifically in educating all sectors of the state about the improved state of solar technology, the benefits of adopting clean energy in Massachusetts, and the incentive programs available.