Legislature Passes Solar Energy Bill, Lifts Net Metering Cap

The Massachusetts Legislature passed legislation that raises the solar net-metering cap and creates a long-term roadmap for the continued growth of solar power in the Commonwealth.  These updates will provide a stable framework that will better protect the Commonwealth’s ratepayers while supporting the growth of the solar industry in a cost-effective manner.

The legislation raises the net metering cap by a total of 6 percent – 3 percent for private facilities and 3 percent for public facilities – which will allow solar projects currently in the development pipeline to move forward.

“Our Commonwealth is at a crossroads in terms of long-term planning for our energy future,” said Senator Jason Lewis.  “This legislation will promote sustainable, renewable energy in Massachusetts and protect the fair treatment of ratepayers.  Further, I’m very pleased with the forthright and productive way policymakers are coming together to address our state’s energy needs.”

This legislation ensures that Massachusetts will reach its goal of 1600 megawatts of solar installed in the Commonwealth. Upon reaching that goal, reforms to the net metering program will go into effect.  As the solar industry matures and the cost of projects continues to decrease, the reformed program will guarantee that incentives also decrease to reduce the cost for ratepayers. Future projects will receive credits equal to 60% of the retail rate for electricity instead of the full retail amount.

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.

Finally, the bill 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 now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.