Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) were joined by a bipartisan group of legislators April 11 to sign solar legislation into law to continue the expansion of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and establish a long-term framework for sustainable solar development in the state.
This legislation recognizes the maturity of Massachusetts’ vibrant solar industry, and will facilitate long-term growth beyond 1,600 MW at a reduced cost to ratepayers, said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The increase of net-metering cap space for public and private entities, and the lower cost next generation incentive program, will simultaneously allow for further solar development and investment in other renewable technologies in the Commonwealth.”
The move drew praise from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which noted that the agreement will lift the cap on net metering in Massachusetts. SEIA also praised the governor’s decision to issue an emergency regulation extending the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).
“Governor Baker’s signature on a legislative compromise to lift net metering caps puts an exclamation point on what has been a remarkable week for the future of solar energy in Massachusetts,” said SEIA Vice President of State Affairs Sean Gallagher.
The state was fourth in the nation in 2015 in solar development, and now after a pause, will forge ahead with jobs and economic development.
Consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s energy agenda, the legislation provides immediate relief to the solar industry by raising the public and private net metering caps from 5% of utilities’ peak load to 8% and from 4% of utilities’ peak load to 7%, respectively. Additionally, the bill allows the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to gradually transition the solar industry to a more self-sustaining model. This approach includes robust stakeholder outreach, and will establish the next generation solar incentive program at a reduced cost.
In an effort to lower the cost of net metering for non-participant ratepayers, the bi-partisan legislation sets the new credit value for all solar projects, except residential, small commercial, municipal and government-owned, to 60% of the full retail rate. To facilitate continued solar growth within communities around the state, the bill preserves retail rate credits for municipal and government-owned projects and continues to exempt residential and small commercial projects from the net metering cap and any net metering credit reductions.