This week Massachusetts announced that it's reached more than 2,000 megawatts (MWs) of solar power, poising it to be the solar leader in the northeast. However, the upcoming incentives, the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) has left some in the solar industry worried about the future of solar in the state.
Using figures from last year’s annual Solar Market Insight report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research Massachusetts was 7th in the nation for installed solar power with 1,487 MWs of installed solar power. The only state with more solar installed in the northeast at that time was New Jersey, which had 1,991 MWs of solar power installed at the time.
The state said it now has more than 78,646 solar projects across the state and that all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts have at least one solar installation. Moreover, the state said that almost half of the solar power was installed in the past two years.
“With over 2,000 megawatts of solar now installed, Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in solar deployment and clean energy innovation,” said Gov. Charlie Baker (R). “Through our next solar incentive program, SMART, and our forward-thinking solar grant programs, we look forward to doubling that amount of solar and building a sustainable and affordable clean energy future for the Commonwealth.”
The new SMART program is expected to incentivize 1,600 more MWs of solar power in the state. The Governor’s administration said it still offers other incentive programs including Solarize Mass, Mass Solar Connect, Mass Solar Loan, and Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Initiative (AACEE) for low-income residents in the state.
While the numbers are good for the state. There’s still a lot of concern among the solar industry. The National Solar Jobs Census, which came out earlier this week showed that the state lost 3,053 last year—even though it still ranked second in the census.
That number and some recent actions in the state, the utility commission’s approval of new solar surcharges for customers by Eversource, a utility in the state, prompted SEIA and other organizations including Vote Solar, the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) and MassSolar to send a letter to Baker, urging him to take action to protect the industry and its jobs.
"We Bay Staters take great pride in our state's leadership on many fronts, including in our commitment to building a modern, job-creating clean energy economy," said Sean Garren, Northeast Senior Director at Vote Solar. "Sadly, that leadership is being thwarted by a number of attacks on solar. We need Governor Baker to get the Commonwealth back on track by standing up to President Trump's tariffs, reversing Eversource's solar tax, and removing arbitrary limits on residents who can enjoy the benefits of solar through net metering.”
"The undersigned organizations, representing thousands of Massachusetts workers and customers and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, urge you to take action to address the headwinds facing Massachusetts' businesses by reaffirming the commitment to the solar industry that your Administration has cultivated over the last several years,” the signatories stated.
They urged Baker to direct the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to fix several serious flaws in the SMART program including “alternative on bill credit provisions” and “redesigning cost recovery” aspects of the program. They also asked him to work with the state legislature to sign, legislation to reverse the Eversource solar charges and provide relief from net-metering caps in the state, which have been hampering new solar development. The letter notes that, “In our current political climate, state-level solar policies are more important than ever to continue the commonwealth's strong record of solar job creation. Leading states like Massachusetts stand to lose the most if immediate action is not taken.”Tweet