Massachusetts reaches net metering compromise — a win for solar?

massachusetts solar

The biggest solar and state net metering impasse has reached its end. State legislators in Massachusetts (both House and Senate) have agreed on legislation to raise the state’s net metering caps by 3 percent, and it will decrease the reimbursement rate paid to most solar energy producers by 40 percent. The lower rate would not apply to small residential projects or to government-owned projects — just larger commercial and residential solar projects as well as community solar. Existing projects could keep the old rate for 25 years.

On balance, the whole thing seems like the type of compromise that could maybe work for both solar installers and utilities both here and in other states.

Here is what Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), had to say about it.

RELATED: Solar vs. the state: Net metering, rate battles are heating up around the country 

“While the compromise proposal includes cuts to the rates at which some customers are credited for solar power, it gets the industry moving again. We urge lawmakers to move quickly to approve this proposal and we look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and Gov. Baker to craft long-term, sustainable policies for the solar industry in Massachusetts.”

The lone dissenter, State Rep. Jonathan Hecht, D-Watertown, was concerned this would be too limiting for solar. “I’m afraid if we do lower net metering rates by that large amount, it means many solar projects simply will not get built,” Hecht said. “I remain deeply concerned that this legislation takes us down the wrong path on solar policy and once in place it will prove difficult to correct.”

According to an analysis conducted by SEIA and Vote Solar, inaction on raising net met metering caps in Massachusetts, resulted in 551 stalled solar projects. These projects account for nearly $618 million in investment and more than 241 megawatts of installed capacity.

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