For Immediate Release - April 09, 2015

Solar Energy Developer to Pay $330,000 Over Claims it Violated Net Metering Agreements

Soltas Energy Corporation’s Actions Resulted in Lost Energy Savings for Towns of Petersham and Warwick, Athol Hospital and YMCA

BOSTON – A solar energy developer has agreed to pay $330,000 over allegations it caused four Central Massachusetts towns and nonprofits to lose thousands of dollars in energy savings when it failed to honor agreements to sell them net metering credits, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. 

The assurance of discontinuance, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, resolves allegations that Soltas Energy Corporation (Soltas) violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and False Claims Act in connection with its successful bid to sell another municipality net metering credits it had already allocated to the Town of Petersham, the Town of Warwick, the Athol Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Athol Memorial Hospital, and its resulting decision to breach its pre-existing power purchase agreements (PPAs) with those towns and nonprofits. 

“We allege this solar energy company failed to honor agreements with local towns and nonprofits that would have provided significant energy savings, which is especially important as communities face rising electricity prices,” AG Healey said. “This settlement will provide restitution and hold this developer responsible for any unfair practices.”

According to today’s settlement, the power purchase agreements (PPAs) would have required Soltas to allocate to the towns and nonprofits net metering credits for solar energy generated at Adams Farm, its Athol-based solar facility, in return for a fixed price per kWh.  Against the backdrop of an increase in electricity prices, the PPAs were expected to yield the towns and nonprofits significant energy savings over their terms. Soltas allegedly breached its PPAs with the towns and nonprofits when it later sold the same credits to another municipality through the public bidding process.

Net metering allows customers to offset their electric bill using credits obtained by generating solar power, also known as net metering credits. Under these specific PPAs, the towns and entities agreed to buy net metering credits generated at Soltas’ Athol-based solar facility at a locked-in rate.

Under the terms of today’s settlement, Soltas will pay $330,000, including damages and restitution arising from lost energy savings, in the amounts of $175,000 to Athol Memorial Hospital, $38,000 to the Athol YMCA, $40,000 to Petersham and $22,000 to Warwick, and $55,000 to the Commonwealth for its alleged violations of the state’s False Claims and Consumer Protection Acts.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Gillian Feiner, Chief of AG Healey’s False Claims Division, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Walker of AG Healey’s False Claims Division and Assistant Attorney General Jamie Tosches of AG Healey’s Energy and Telecommunications Division.

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