Last week Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) introduced a bill to raise the net metering cap in Massachusetts. The solar industry, which had thrived in the state until caps started being reached, responded to the governor's action with enthusiasm. The state has led the northeast in solar installations but without some changes it is unclear whether it will continue in that role.
“By addressing net-metering caps in the short and long term, this legislation provides the framework necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020 and beyond,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to lowering the costs of large solar projects across the state, while continuing to encourage the development of rooftop solar growth by excluding residential and small business programs from net metering caps.”
“Massachusetts continues to boast a nation-leading solar industry, and this legislation will build upon that continued success while ensuring that our state’s solar market remains viable and sustainable for years to come,” Baker said. “In filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint, and protecting ratepayers.”
The proposal received cautious praise from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "We applaud Gov. Baker for responding to the urgency of raising the net metering caps. Solar projects are stalled in 171 cities and towns across Massachusetts, putting jobs and environmental and economic progress at risk,” said SEIA Vice President of State Affairs Sean Gallagher. “The Governor's engagement is a positive step forward in the legislative process, and will help ensure that solar continues to play an increasing role in Massachusetts’s energy mix," he said.
However, Gallagher cautioned that some provisions in the bill would take effect in a few years rather than right away, which he said, would be a backward step for the state. “Parts of the proposed bill’s long-term approach to compensating renewable distributed generation are concerning because they undervalue the local, clean, reliable energy that solar projects deliver to our electric grid,” he stated. SEIA, he said, is encouraging lawmakers in the state work with other states like New York and California where they’re trying to figure out how to credit or pay those customers who have gone solar.Tweet