The State of Massachusetts recently signed legislation to expand the amount of solar power allowable in the state – and ran out on the first day. This legislation was signed after one area of Massachusetts was unable to install $617 million in solar projects since July of 2015 due to hitting the “net-metering” cap. The legislation doubled the amount of space that was available. On May 11th, the first day that Massachusetts updated its website to reflect this newly available solar installation volume, it was shown that the solar power cap was hit by previously reserved projects.
A local politician now seems to have foretold of this occurrence:
“The slight increase of 3 percent is immediately necessary, but it means we’ll have to come back here very shortly once again to debate raising the net metering cap,” said State Rep. Frank Smizik, D-Brookline
In an email sent out by the Massachusetts System of Assurance of Net Metering Eligibility:
At 10:15 AM EDT on May 11, 2016, all net metering caps were updated to reflect the changes detailed in House Bill 4173. All Private Net Metering Caps now reflect a total capacity of 7% of each Distribution Company’s historic peak load. Similarly, all Public Net Metering Caps now reflect 8% of each Distribution Company’s historic peak load.
This data comes from the MASS ACA “Provisional Application Activity and Remaining Capacity” webpage. The private National Grid (NGrid) utility region has a strong combination of population, high energy prices, cheaper land and open electrical grid space.
The current data reads as follows:According to VoteSolar.org the Net Metering impasse caused hundreds of millions in stalled revenue.
Net metering inaction has halted construction of more than 500 solar projects in communities across Massachusetts. The stalled solar projects, which were intended to serve local businesses, low- and middle-income families, public agencies, nonprofit organizations and others, would have produced enough reliable solar energy to power 50,000 Massachusetts homes. In total, these projects are valued at $617 million, and that lost investment is costing cities and towns $3.2 million in annual tax revenues.
The group even went so far as to list every single project that was on hold and the local jurisdiction affected.
A first solar bill, signed by the state Senate, was signed in July of 2015. In November of 2015, on the second to the last day of the legislative session, the Massachusetts House introduced a solar compromise bill.
The Senate passed a measure raising the cap this summer, but the House waited until Tuesday night to vote 150-2 for a bill that raised the cap slightly while slashing the rates solar developers would be paid for the electricity they feed into the regional power grid. The Senate responded Wednesday afternoon by unanimously passing a compromise proposal that scaled back the net metering rate, but not nearly as much as the House. The two branches appointed a conference committee to resolve their differences; the effort went nowhere and the House adjourned at 6:38 p.m. and went home.