Massachusetts governor signs solar legislation reducing state's net metering cap - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Distributed Generation, Regulation, Solar  -  April 12, 2016

Massachusetts governor signs solar legislation reducing state's net metering cap

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on April 11 signed solar legislation into law that he, alongside Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, said will continue the expansion of the state's solar industry and establish a long-term framework for sustainable solar development.

The governor's signature brings to official close months of negotiations over the specifics of the law; state Legislators reached an agreement on the bill's final language on April 6. The new law raises the state's net metering cap by 3%. 

Under the new law, public net metering caps increase from 5% of utilities’ peak load to 8%, and private  net metering caps increase from 4% of utilities’ peak load to 7%. But the law also reportedly lowers the reimbursement rate for commercial and community solar projects to the wholesale rate after the state reaches a total of 1,600 MW of solar capacity, according to Utility Dive.

Per the governor's office: 

In an effort to lower the cost of net metering for non-participant ratepayers, the bi-partisan legislation sets the new credit value for all solar projects, except residential, small commercial, municipal and government-owned, to 60% of the full retail rate. To facilitate continued solar growth within communities around the Commonwealth, the bill preserves retail rate credits for municipal and government-owned projects and continues to exempt residential and small commercial projects from the net metering cap and any net metering credit reductions.

In response to the news, the Solar Energy Industries Association, who had advocated for the state to lift its net metering cap, applauded the administration's action.

"Gov. Baker’s signature on a legislative compromise to lift net metering caps puts an exclamation point on what has been a remarkable week for the future of solar energy in Massachusetts," the industry group said in an April 11 statement. "The state was fourth in the nation in 2015 in solar development, and now after a pause, will forge ahead with jobs and economic development." 

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