The administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has filed legislation to raise solar net-metering caps and establish a long-term, sustainable framework for further solar development in the commonwealth.
The proposal seeks to achieve the administration's goals of reducing costs to ratepayers while strengthening the clean energy economy in Massachusetts and meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements set forth under the Global Warming Solutions Act.
The legislation would raise the private and public net-metering caps 2% each to 6% and 7%, respectively. The enhancement of cap space represents a 50% increase for public entities and a 40% increase for private entities in the allowable amount of solar energy available for net-metering credits.
According to the administration, this increase would provide immediate support for projects being developed in service territories where the caps have already been reached and provide the Department of Public Utilities with the authority to raise the caps further (as needed in the future).
Additionally, the framework aims to help the commonwealth promote equitable access to solar energy at a reasonable cost to ratepayers and meet – well ahead of schedule – its 2020 target of 1,600 MW of solar development.
Hitting the net-metering cap does not prevent an entity from choosing to install solar generation and selling energy and renewable energy certificates from the project into the market. However, the proposed cap increase would provide an additional revenue stream to many solar projects, says the administration.
This proposal also leverages the federal solar investment tax credit to the maximum extent before the expiration date on Dec. 31, 2016. Beyond the 1,600 MW goal, the legislation provides for a slightly higher credit value for solar installations developed by government entities, municipalities, low-income ratepayers, and community-shared net-metering projects, as the net metering credits for these customers will be at the higher level of the basic service price.
Net metering for residential and small business rooftop installations would remain unchanged for projects that are 10 kW and 25 kW, respectively.