The RPS Solar Carve-Out was a market-based incentive program designed to support residential, commercial, public, and non-profit entities in developing new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity across the Commonwealth. While no new applications are being accepted for facilities at this time, the program continues to provide ongoing support to already qualified facilities.

DOER's goals and objectives for the RPS Solar Carve-Out included the following:

  • Cultivate solar development through varied generator sizes across multiple sectors (residential, commercial, and utility-scale)
  • Develop a sustainable solar market that reduces dependence on state subsidies and has long-term growth potential
  • Create a smooth transition from upfront, rebate-only incentives to production-based, market-priced Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)
  • Minimize impact on ratepayers

Project Eligibility

To participate in the RPS Solar Carve-Out, solar photovoltaic Generation Units needed to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a capacity of 6 MW (dc) or less per parcel of land
  • Be located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which includes municipal light district territories
  • Use some of its generation on-site and be interconnected to the utility grid
  • Have a Commercial Operation Date of January 1, 2008, or later

Eligibility Clarification

Solar projects owned by the regulated utility companies as provided in the Green Communities Act of 2008 were eligible.

Projects that received funding from programs administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center or Renewable Energy Trust prior to the start date of the Solar Carve-Out Program (January 1, 2010) and those that received substantial funding (over 67% of total installed cost) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal stimulus programs were not eligible.

Units deemed eligible to participate will receive a Statement of Qualification (SQ) from DOER that states the unit's eligibility and specifies an Opt-In Term, in calendar quarters, of the eligibility of these units to participate in the Solar Credit Clearinghouse Auction.

Generating SRECs and the Role of NEPOOL GIS (Generation Information System) Accounts

Electricity produced by qualified solar PV systems is broken into two products:

1) The electricity production that is used on-site or delivered to the grid.

2) The positive environmental attributes associated with this clean energy production.

SRECs represent the second product. One SREC is created each time a solar PV system generates 1 MWh (or 1000 kWh). The SREC is minted electronically and deposited quarterly in the generator's (or its aggregator's) account on the NEPOOL GIS, based on verified meter readings.

If a PV system Owner has a designated aggregator, their SRECs will be deposited into the aggregator's account. The aggregator may choose to combine fractional SRECs from several PV systems into whole SRECs within its account. Each SREC has a unique serial number assigned to it that carries information about where and when it was generated.

Generators can sell their SRECs to meet a regulatory compliance requirement. They can also sell them to voluntary markets or "retire" their credits as a means of voluntarily supporting solar power.

SREC Compliance Obligation and Market Trading

All regulated and competitive Retail Electricity Suppliers that serve the Massachusetts load (also known as Load-Serving Entities) need SRECs to meet the RPS Solar Carve Out compliance obligation (Municipal Light Districts are exempted). These entities also have NEPOOL GIS accounts. Once SREC generators (sellers) and Retail Electricity Suppliers (buyers) execute a financial deal (bilaterally or through brokers, either in the spot market or under a long-term contract), both parties accept the transfer of SRECs from one GIS account to the other.

Retail Electricity Suppliers submit Annual Compliance Filings to DOER, in order to demonstrate that they have ownership of sufficient SRECs to meet their compliance obligation or have submitted Alternative Compliance Payments to meet any shortfall.

Important Dates for the RPS Solar Carve-out Program

January 15SRECs from Quarter 3 of the previous calendar year are minted at the NEPOOL GIS
April 15SRECs from Quarter 4 of previous calendar year are minted at NEPOOL GIS
May 16 - June 15Solar Credit Clearinghouse auction account available for deposit of SRECs
July 1Compliance Filings due from Retail Electric Suppliers
July 15SRECs from Quarter 1 of current calendar year are minted at NEPOOL GIS
July 31Auction held no later than this date, if the auction does not clear DOER shall conduct a new auction within three business days
August 30The Minimum Standard shall be announced by DOER not later than this day
October 15SRECs from Quarter 2 of the current calendar year are minted at NEPOOL GIS

This information is provided by the Department of Energy Resources.