Massachusetts has a chance to improve homeowners’ access to net metering. Legislation in both the State Senate and State House of Representatives would allow public and private distributed generation (DG) solar projects to continue, while preserving and expanding jobs in clean, reliable solar energy across the state.
An Act Relative to Net Metering (S2019 and H3901) modifies the current statute on net metering and establishes a commission to research and review the viability of net metering and alternative strategies to facilitate DG and meet energy goals.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today announced its support for the legislation.
“SEIA fully supports the legislation proposed by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and Rep. Frank Smizik, and we believe it will provide a quick resolution to the logjam of solar projects currently being held up across Massachusetts,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, SEIA’s Senior Vice President of State Affairs. “Extending the net metering cap will enable municipalities and other customers to pursue the benefits of solar power, and it will help to achieve the Governor’s goal of 1,600 megawatts (MW) of solar energy by 2020. In addition, SEIA supports the bill’s provision for a commission to look at net metering.”
Solar development has seen tremendous growth in Massachusetts in recent years due in large part to favorable state policies such as net metering and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). Those policies have been instrumental in attracting new developers and investors, who have brought projects, jobs, and customer savings to the state.
A new report released last week found that Massachusetts has more than 464 MW of solar installed, enough to power more than 70,650 homes. That’s led to the state’s ranking as 5th in the country in terms of solar capacity.
According to the SEIA, the current net metering cap limits development and impedes the state’s ability to meet its goals. The cap has two components: one for public projects and one for private projects in each utility service territory. The public cap for most of Massachusetts has already been reached, preventing many cities and towns from participating in the program.
The Commonwealth currently has more than 286 solar companies throughout the value chain, employing 8,400 people across the state. In 2013, $476 million was invested in Massachusetts to install solar on homes and businesses, a 52% increase over the previous year. A statewide poll conducted by Princeton Research Associates in December 2013 showed that nearly nearly 70% of Massachusetts voters believe the solar power industry is important to the Massachusetts economy, and nearly 60% of voters see direct benefits in terms of tax revenue, energy savings, or land use from solar power in their cities and towns.