The solar market in Massachusetts was thriving until it hit a roadblock—itself. It began hitting caps for net-metering and renewable energy credits for solar power, and there wasn’t a plan clear plan forward from there. The state legislature reached an impasse last year as bills between the state House and Senate were different. Yesterday (April 6) the House and Senate agreed on legislation to raise the state's net metering caps by 3 percent.
The legislation that the House passed on Wednesday, H.4173, would raise the cap on net metering, but it would also reduce the reimbursement rates for net-metered solar arrays.
“The final wording of the bill allows smaller scale projects to benefit from higher retail reimbursements rates—which last year was around US$0.17/kWh,” PV-Tech reported. “Commercial or community projects however are excluded and entitled to a less favorable wholesale reimbursement rate.”
The House passed the legislation by a vote of 152 to 1. The only Representative to dissent was Jonathan Hecht, D-Watertown. "I'm afraid if we do lower net metering rates by that large amount, it means many solar projects simply will not get built," Hecht said. "I remain deeply concerned that this legislation takes us down the wrong path on solar policy and once in place it will prove difficult to correct."
However the solar industry remained bullish on the legislation. "Reminiscent of my beloved Red Sox, after a down year, the solar industry is back this spring and in business and we applaud the lawmakers who pushed the legislation forward,” said Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Executive Director Rhone Resch.
The organization and the local solar industry previously raised concerns that inaction in Massachusetts was stifling the industry. This is particularly important because "Massachusetts has been one of the leading solar energy markets in the U.S. for the last decade,” Resch said. “By raising the caps, the Commonwealth is showing it values the well-paying local jobs that solar provides and the energy independence of its residents. Bay Staters have made it abundantly clear they want access to clean, affordable, reliable renewable power.”
"While the compromise proposal includes cuts to the rates at which some customers are credited for solar power, it gets the industry moving again. We urge lawmakers to move quickly to approve this proposal and we look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and Gov. Baker to craft long-term, sustainable policies for the solar industry in Massachusetts,” Resch contended.Tweet