Massachusetts Common-Ground Solar Language Becomes Bill in Record Time

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Just a day after solar advocates and utiities discuss common-ground solar language in Massachusetts, the language moves into legislation. The Alliance for Solar Choice is hopeful that this legislation will soon be passed by the full House and Senate in Massachusetts.

Good news from Massachusetts! 

Last Friday, just a day after we reported on utilities and solar advocates meeting to discuss common-ground language for solar in the state, the language moved into legislation. That’s quick work and another sign that something unusual is happening in Massachusetts — an agreement between parties that have recently been at odds in other states. Could this be the start of a trend?

 

Massachusetts is already in the top 5 solar states. Let’s hope the example being set there will spur other states to follow suit and climb up that list — especially states with a lot of sun. You know who you are!

 

The Massachusetts agreement seems like something worth emulating, or at least learning from. So far, the new bill has been flying through the legislative process. According to The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), the Joint Committee on Telecom, Utilities and Energy supported the language unanimously. The bill number will be made public this week. TASC is hopeful that this legislation will soon be passed by the full House and Senate in Massachusetts.

 

The bill includes four key components, as noted in last week’s report on the common-ground language:

 

Remove Massachusetts’ net metering cap. Net metering is a cornerstone solar policy that gives rooftop solar customers retail credit for the surplus energy they put back on the grid. Currently, a cap on the number of customers that can participate in net metering threatens continued solar growth. The language under consideration removes this cap.

 

Broad rate reform grounded in minimum bills for all customers. The language supports minimum bills for all customers. Minimum bills create a floor on all customers’ electric bills, rather than singling out specific groups with discriminatory, additional charges. They treat solar customers no differently than any other energy-conscious customers — in other words, using solar is no different from a homeowner consuming less energy by turning off the lights or going on vacation.

 

Transition the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program to a long-term, stable, performance-based incentive. The new program is modeled after other successful state programs where the incentives step down over time as solar costs continue to drop. The transition will occur over 18 months, giving market participants time to adapt to the new program.

 

Provide a sustainable framework for virtual net metering. Virtual metering refers to solar energy generated at a separate site from customers’ electric meters. The proposed language creates a sustainable framework for virtual metering so that Massachusetts can continue to encourage solar growth and customer choice.