As published in the ELM (Environmental League of Massachusetts) Newsletter, November 19, 2015
After much tussling before the end of the fall legislative session, the House and Senate did not come to an agreement on solar reform legislation to lift the net metering cap and preserve reasonable and fair compensation for solar generators. We are grateful for your help communicating with your legislators to promote Massachusetts' innovative solar programs, which have brought over 12,000 jobs and a stable, local energy resource to our communities.
Unfortunately, the House waited far too long to act on solar after the Senate passed its version of solar reform in July. As our own Josh Craft noted earlier this week in Commonwealth Magazine (see story below), attempts at a compromise fell apart in the House, largely because of opposition by the state's utilities and large industry groups. The House's version of the solar reform bill would have damaging impacts on prospects for solar projects in the state, reducing the value of compensation through net metering for business, low-income housing, and municipally owned projects from a level equivalent of 17 cents/kWh to around 5 cents/kWh. This would be a 70% drop. Due to delays by the House, the Senate was forced to try and amend the weak House bill in a single day, and adopted amendments that would have been substantially better for future solar development in the state than what either the House or Governor Baker have put forward. Regrettably, the House refused to agree to the Senate's amendments, and time ran out for a compromise. We hope that when the Legislature returns early next year that they will act swiftly to lift the net metering caps so that solar projects can continue to proceed. Early action is even more important as solar developers race to secure additional federal tax credits, which expire at the end of 2016.
A Special Thanks...
We would like to extend special thanks to the legislators who stood up for a stronger and better solar policy. We thank in particular Representatives Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown) and Denise Provost (D-Somerville) for voting against the House version, and also Representatives Frank Smizik (D-Brookline), Tom Calter (D-Kingston), Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), and Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) for their statements on the House floor. On the Senate side, we would like to thank Senator Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield) for leading the Senate efforts to fix the bill, as well as Senators Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), and Dan Wolf (D-Harwich).