Clean Energy Businesses, Utilities, Environmental Groups, Municipalities Call for Legislature to Pass Legislation to Advance Solar Energy

Environment Massachusetts

BOSTON – With two days left in the legislative session, National Grid, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE), the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC), the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) and Environment Massachusetts are asking the House Ways and Means Committee to quickly release consensus language on House Bill 4185, a landmark compromise that provides a stable and cost-effective policy solution to support solar energy in Massachusetts.  Last week, this broad coalition of stakeholders agreed upon language that would enable this bill to move forward, and are now asking the legislature to pass the bill.

H4185 extends Massachusetts’ successful net metering program, removing the caps that have been hit and are limiting solar development, and makes changes to both the net metering and renewable energy incentive programs that will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings for Massachusetts ratepayers.   

“National Grid supports this legislation, in which many stakeholders worked together to reach a compromise that we believe will grow the solar industry while lowering the overall costs of the program, reducing the impact on customer bills,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “The bill establishes a more competitive framework that will reduce the cost of installing solar throughout Massachusetts and position the Commonwealth to meet the goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar by 2020.”

“The Massachusetts-based businesses that comprise SEBANE depend on the net metering program,” said Tom Thompson, President of SEBANE.  “Without it, many of our companies will have to cut jobs or close their doors entirely.  H4185 is critical for the local solar industry, and we urge the House to act on the consensus recommendations given to the Committee.” 

“Cities and towns have been national leaders in promoting and advancing solar generation,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “We strongly support this consensus version of H4185, because we need the legislation to allow our communities and the entire state to maintain and increase the development of solar energy, particularly by lifting the net metering cap that is a major obstacle to solar development in cities and towns.” 

“This bill simplifies the solar rules in Massachusetts, removing NEM caps and establishing a stable incentive program that businesses can plan around, making it a long-term win for all solar stakeholders.  Time is running out for the legislature to act,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA.  “Without this bill solar projects across the state will stall, shuttering much of the solar industry in the Commonwealth.” 

“The Massachusetts Legislature has the opportunity to lead the nation by passing this legislation.  It ensures that the Commonwealth continues to reap the economic, energy stability and environmental benefits it has seen from its steadily growing solar sector, which now employs more than 8,000 people.  Moreover, the bill stands as a model for the nation, resolving the debate between the renewable energy industry and utilities about how to support solar growth fairly,” said NECEC President Peter Rothstein.

“Massachusetts officials deserve tremendous credit for the significant environmental and economic benefits solar energy is starting to provide for the Commonwealth,” said Rob Sargent, on behalf of Environment Massachusetts.  “As more people recognize the benefits we get from this pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs, it can be a major element of our plan to reduce pollution.  But, if the legislature fails to extend our most successful solar policies, including net metering and community solar, that progress will stall.”   

Changes in the compromise reached last week include:

  • An accommodation to existing solar customers that recognizes the impact a minimum monthly bill could have on those customers;
  • A continuation of the existing solar program for residential customers in municipal light plant districts;
  • An expansion of program eligibility for solar projects on brownfields up to 5 megawatts; and
  • A provision to further encourage the development of community shared solar.