Legislature Poised to Take Big Step on Solar Electricity

Environment Massachusetts

Boston, MA – This week, the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee in the Massachusetts state legislature advanced a critical clean energy bill SB1664, An Act Relative to Net-Metering. The bill would increase the availability of the net-metering program and is a critical piece of expanding clean energy production across the state.

The net-metering program is an important reason why installed solar electricity has increased 24 fold since 2008, the year the Massachusetts legislature passed the GREEN Communities Act.

The bill was filed by State Senator James Eldridge in response to renewable energy businesses across the commonwealth warning legislators that if the cap isn’t raised, the solar industry would be unable to expand, and growth in the clean energy sector would plateau, causing businesses to shrink their workforce, and look towards other states to continue to grow.

“This bill will ensure that Massachusetts remains a national leader in the solar industry, helping grow clean energy jobs while reducing carbon emissions here in our state. Increasing the net metering cap will allow communities across the Commonwealth to continue to build on the work they’ve already done to increase their use of clean energy. It’s a great step forward, and I commend the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy for their work on this legislation,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).

Michael Stone, Policy and Regulations Manager for My Generation Energy, a solar company based in Sandwich, MA said, “This legislation is significant in that leaders from across our Commonwealth have recognized the strong local demand for clean energy choice and the value, both economically and environmentally, of expanding clean energy access. This legislation will aide in reducing the hundreds of millions of dollars we send out of the state every week – for oil, natural gas and coal -, reduce future transmission expenditures and create more resilient communities across the Commonwealth as a result. For our customers – homeowners, businesses and landowners – net metering means having control over their energy future with proven and reliable distributed generation such as solar. “

“”Solar is an unlimited, pollution free resource with no fuel costs that will help Massachusetts meet our energy and environmental goals. We looking forward to working with the legislature to making solar a centerpiece of Massachusetts’ energy strategy,” said Ben Wright, advocate with Environment Massachusetts.

“Passing this bill is very important for the long-term growth of the solar industry in Massachusetts, and we couldn’t be more pleased that this bill has moved another step forward. We’re greatly appreciative of Senator Eldridge’s strong support of net-metering and the solar industry, and we want to thank him as well as Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy for their work on this legislation,” said Steven Strong of Solar Design Associates, Inc. in Harvard, MA.

SB1664, if signed by the Governor, will significantly increase the Commonwealth’s installed solar by;

  • Increasing the cap on the net-metering program to 3% of peak-load for public buildings and 3% of peak-load for private buildings. This will allow more residents, municipalities and businesses to install solar a sell their excess power back to their utilities at fair market rates. Effectively reducing pay-back periods for installations and making solar more affordable for more people.
  • Exempting small-scale systems (less than 10kw) from counting towards the cap. The average residential solar PV installation is 5.5kw, so this provision effectively removes the cap for most residential solar.
  • Creating more energy market competition with expanded clean energy choice, allowing allow clean energy companies throughout the Commonwealth the ability to continue offering the proven services their customers value with jobs that can’t be outsourced.