Last night (July 31) Massachusetts’ House didn’t pass HB 4185, which would instate sweeping reforms in the state’s solar program. The legislation fell short of Gov. Duval Patrick’s hopes of overhauling the state’s solar program—at least for now. However it did up the cap on net-metering in the state from 3 percent to 4 percent for non-public projects and 5 percent for public projects.
Patrick had hoped to sign legislation that would raise the state’s solar generation goal to 1,600 megawatts by 2020, essentially doubling where it was at now. However, instead of passing sweeping legislation that would ensure the state makes those goals it just raised caps on net-metering and established a commission to see how best to meet that goal.
Still, the solar advocates said the legislation was a positive step. “This action makes it clear that the Massachusetts legislature recognizes the many benefits which solar investments bring to the Commonwealth,” said Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President Rhone Resch. “While we are disappointed that H 4185 did not pass, leaving the solar industry with an uncertain business climate, SEIA is proud of the hard work we did with other solar stakeholders to find a workable framework, and we look forward to working with the legislature and the task force to build on that compromise.”
The Alliance for Solar Choice Executive Director Anne Smart added: “While the legislature left important work to state regulators, HB 4185 establishes a framework for common ground.” A Green Ribbon Commission will reestablished to evaluate a minimum bill to support the state’s electric distribution system and how to create an appropriate incentive program to deploy the 1.6 gigawatts of power that Patrick has called for.
The state, however, did pass SB 2214 in an attempt to increase solar heating and cooling in the state. “This legislation will help to reduce energy costs for Massachusetts consumers as well as for utilities, spur local economic development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win all the way around,” Resch said. “Most importantly, in a state where home heating costs are exorbitant, businesses and homes which install these energy efficient technologies can reduce their energy costs.”Tweet