Analysis: Current Net Metering Cap Stalls $78 Million of Solar Projects in Massachusetts
Solar Advocates Press Legislators to Raise Net Metering Caps, Protect Thousands of Jobs
Monday, Oct 02 2017
BOSTON, MASS. and WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2017) – More than $78 million in solar projects are on hold in Massachusetts, according to new analysis from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). SEIA and Massachusetts partner organizations are convening at the State Capitol on Oct. 3 and testifying in support of two bills that would raise the net metering caps. The waiting list totals 124 projects, which have a capacity of 51.2 megawatts (MW) and could power nearly 5,400 homes.
“Massachusetts has been one of our nation’s clean energy leaders, but one of its fastest-growing industries is being stifled by delayed action on net metering,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “With projects now on hold in more than half the state, the Legislature should raise the net metering caps this year. Doing so will ensure significant investment in the Commonwealth, create new jobs, protect thousands more, and help meet the Governor’s clean energy goals.”
The counties with the largest stranded investment include Berkshire County ($28.1 million), Worcester County ($12.8 million) and Hampshire County ($9.1 million). Three of the state’s utilities, including National Grid, WMECO, and Unitil have reached net metering caps in their service territories.
Under Massachusetts’ current policy, only a certain percentage of a utility’s total distribution load can use net metering, a policy that allows businesses and other end-users to get credit for the electricity they generate and send to the power grid. They are only billed for their “net” energy use. The Massachusetts net metering caps apply to commercial, industrial, public and community solar projects. This means entities such as school districts, municipal buildings, and small and large businesses that want to adopt solar and take advantage of its benefits are unable to do so when the caps have been met.
To provide the long-term certainty needed for businesses to grow, SEIA, on behalf of its more than 45 member companies in Massachusetts, is proposing raising the statewide net metering cap by 5 percent for public and private projects, the same level proposed in the bills S. 1824/H. 2712.
This cap increase, in conjunction with the state’s solar incentive program, SMART, would help solar companies install more than 1,000 MW of solar by 2022, which is necessary to meet Governor Baker’s goal of doubling the size of Massachusetts’ solar market, which today ranks sixth in the nation with 1,743 MW of installed solar capacity.
Celebrating its 43rd anniversary in 2017, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 260,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
Alex Hobson, SEIA Senior Communications Manager, [email protected] (202) 556-2886