Baker-Polito Administration Files Solar Legislation to Raise Net Metering Caps, Continue Industry Growth
Proposal Seeks to Achieve Cost Savings for Ratepayers, Promote Solar Development
BOSTON – Today, in an effort to expand upon the success and continued growth of Massachusetts’ solar industry, the Baker-Polito Administration filed legislation to establish a long term, market-predictable, sustainable framework for further solar development in the Commonwealth. The proposal seeks to achieve the administration’s goals of reducing costs to ratepayers while strengthening the clean energy economy in Massachusetts and meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements set forth under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).
“Massachusetts continues to boast a nation-leading solar industry, and this legislation will build upon that continued success while ensuring that our state’s solar market remains viable and sustainable for years to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint, and protecting ratepayers.”
“By addressing net-metering caps in the short and long term, this legislation provides the framework necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020 and beyond,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to lowering the costs of large solar projects across the state, while continuing to encourage the development of rooftop solar growth by excluding residential and small business programs from net metering caps.”
An Act relative to a long-term, sustainable solar industry, filed in the House of Representatives, maintains strong support for solar generation in the Commonwealth by raising the private and public net metering caps two percent each, to six and seven percent, respectively. The enhancement of cap space represents a 50% increase for public entities, and a 40% increase for private entities, in the allowable amount of solar energy available for net metering credits. This increase will provide immediate support for projects being developed in service territories where the caps have already been reached, and provides the Department of Public Utilities with the authority to raise the caps further, as needed in the future. Additionally, this framework will work to bolster the ability of the Commonwealth to meet the 2020 target of 1,600 megawatts of solar development, well ahead of schedule.
Hitting the net metering cap does not prevent an entity from choosing to install solar generation and selling energy and renewable energy certificates from the project into the market. However, the proposed cap increase will provide an additional revenue stream to many solar projects that allows the Massachusetts solar industry to advance at a faster pace towards the 1,600 megawatt goal.
To facilitate further growth, the legislation also provides for the development of a program to support solar development beyond 1,600 megawatts at a reasonable cost to ratepayers while promoting equitable access to solar energy. Furthermore, the plan filed today ensures that the costs of the program are shared collectively among all ratepayers of the distribution companies.
“This bill will support the continued growth of the Massachusetts solar industry to our goal of 1,600 megawatts and beyond,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “The proposal will ensure that solar continues to thrive in the Commonwealth at a reasonable cost to ratepayers, while helping to grow the economy and meet environmental objectives. The Department of Energy Resources looks forward to working with the stakeholder community to make sure Massachusetts continues to be a leader in clean energy.”
The legislation filed today recognizes the growth and maturity of the state’s solar industry and works to achieve cost-savings by creating a market-based net metering credit for installations developed after the 1,600 megawatt goal is reached, at a reasonable cost to ratepayers. Furthermore, this proposal leverages the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit to the maximum extent before their expiration date on December 31, 2016. Beyond the 1,600 megawatt goal, the legislation provides for a slightly higher credit value for solar installations developed by government entities, municipalities, low income ratepayers, and community shared net metering projects, as the net metering credits for these customers will be at the higher level of the basic service price. Net metering for residential and small business rooftop installations would remain unchanged for projects that are 10 kilowatts and 25 kilowatts, respectively.
Solar legislation is the Baker-Polito Administration’s most recent effort to ensure Massachusetts’ diversified energy approach. Last month, the Administration filed legislation to diversify the state’s energy portfolio through the procurement of cost-effective, hydropower generation.