Massachusetts is transitioning to a new distributed solar incentive program but in the meantime there are 124 smaller-scale solar projects, comprising 51.2 megawatts worth $78 million, on hold, according to new analysis from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Combined the projects could provide enough energy to power 5,400 homes in the state. But, to allow them to move forward the state would have to raise its current net metering caps.
“Massachusetts has been one of our nation’s clean energy leaders, but one of its fastest-growing industries is being stifled by delayed action on net metering,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “With projects now on hold in more than half the state, the legislature should raise the net metering caps this year. Doing so will ensure significant investment in the Commonwealth, create new jobs, protect thousands more, and help meet the Governor’s clean energy goals.”
Utilities, under the state’s current net-metering policy, can only allow a certain percentage of net-metered solar power systems on their electric grid. But over the past few years growth in net-metering and distributed solar power have skyrocketed as solar panel and equipment prices have fallen and utilities across more than half the state have already reached their limits. Solar advocates have been pushing to expand net-metering in the state for a while now, in an attempt to increase that state’s solar installations and maintain it as a solar leader in the US.
In this case the caps apply to commercial, industrial, public and community solar projects. These projects include school districts, municipal buildings, and small and large businesses that want to adopt solar and take advantage of its benefits are unable to do so when the caps have been met. Three counties, Berkshire, Worcester and Hampshire counties had the largest groups of solar projects in the works that can’t be completed without raised net-metering caps.
There are currently bills in Massachusetts’ House and Senate, S. 1824 and H. 2712, that would raise the statewide net-metering cap. SEIA and its partner organizations will testify on Oct. 3 in support of the two bills.
According to SEIA, the state’s new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, along with the proposed cap increase, would allow the state to install more than 1,000 megawatts of new solar power by 2022. That’s what’s needed to meet Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) goal of doubling Massachusetts’ solar capacity, which already has 1,743 MWs of solar installed.Tweet