BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation that raises the solar net-metering cap; net metering allows consumers, businesses and municipalities to produce solar power and feed it back into the electric grid for discounts on electric expenses. The legislation raises the net metering cap 3 percent for private facilities and 3 percent for public facilities, which will allow solar projects currently in the development pipeline to move forward.
“Over the last several years, developments in solar energy technology have advanced exponentially with our state producing more solar energy than ever before,” said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “To ensure continued growth it was critical that the Legislature acted to immediately lift the cap on net metering, furthering stalled projects. While this bill is a good first step that allows projects to move forward in the short-term, it is vital that the Legislature safeguard the long-term growth of solar and fix the issues surrounding community solar so people of all incomes can participate in clean, renewable energy.”
The legislation is a continuation of increases intended to push the state toward its goal of 1600 megawatts of installed solar in the Commonwealth. Under this law, residential and municipally-owned systems are exempt from changes to the net metering program, and will continue to receive credits equal to the full retail rate. Additionally, projects installed prior to reaching 1600MW will continue to receive current net metering rates for 25 years from the date of installation.
The bill also directs the Department of Energy Resources to develop a new, long term solar incentive program to support the expanded use of solar beyond the Commonwealth’s 1600 megawatt goal. This program will prioritize low income, community-shared and municipal projects, and provides a foundation for the stable and continued growth of the solar industry.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Baker on April 11th, 2016.