The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has announced plans to extend the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC 2) program further into 2017, along with a new proposal for a long-term replacement of the program.
In a joint press release, several solar advocacy groups have praised the announcement, noting that since its inception, the SREC 2 program has led Massachusetts to more than 1.6 GW of solar development and supported thousands of local jobs, economic investments, and a healthier environment for Bay State families and businesses.
The DOER’s proposed replacement program, dubbed Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART), was designed pursuant to a law signed in April and is the result of a comprehensive stakeholder process. All aspects of the proposal are still subject to change, but according to a DOER document, SMART would aim to add another 1.6 GW through a so-called “declining block” program, with base compensation rates reducing by set percentages in each block.
Solar associations, businesses, non-profits and supporters have celebrated the move to address the gap between the SREC 2 program and its successor and say they are looking forward to further work to review the details and inform the final rules.
“Today, the Baker Administration built a much-needed bridge between the end of the current solar incentive program and the beginning of the new one,” says Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This action will allow new solar projects to move forward, creating jobs, valuable investment dollars, and a well-deserved reputation for Massachusetts as one of America’s top solar states. SEIA is looking forward to working with state leaders to finalize the details of both the extension plan and the new incentive program.”
“Solar is delivering economic and environmental benefits to Massachusetts, with tens of thousands of solar jobs, millions of dollars in energy savings and significant reductions in our air and water pollution,” comments Nathan Phelps, program manager of distributed generation regulatory policy at Vote Solar. “The Commonwealth is on the path to a bright solar future, and we applaud the Baker Administration for seeking to continue Massachusetts’ leadership with this extension.”
“We commend the Baker Administration’s recognition of the need for continuity and certainty to attract investment and ensure continued solar development in the Commonwealth. We look forward to working with DOER as it finalizes the details of its proposal to ensure the new program provides a strong policy framework for solar energy,” says NECEC President Peter Rothstein. “With a sustainable solar policy framework, more and more businesses, municipalities, and residents will find the value and opportunity to build solar projects that will preserve local jobs and provide economic, energy and environmental benefits to the Commonwealth.”
“Community shared solar projects are saving consumers money while providing clean, local power in dozens of towns from Hadley to Haverhill,” adds Coalition for Community Solar Access Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “We appreciate the Baker Administration’s attention to maintaining a stable businesses environment; however, this proposal will require some adjustments to ensure it works for community solar, which is critical for expanding access to solar to more customers, even if they don’t have a sunny roof.”
“Over the years, Massachusetts has done a marvelous job encouraging an emerging solar industry, creating thousands of jobs, and helping to put clean energy resources into the hands of mainstream people and local businesses,” said Bill Stillinger, President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England. “An SREC extension will avoid disruption, and we look forward to working on our state’s progress toward a clean energy future.”