15,000 solar jobs, $600MM in salaries at risk in Massachusetts

15,000 solar jobs, $600MM in salaries at risk in Massachusetts

Commercial Solar, Community Solar, Opinion, Politics, SREC
Time to look at the wider benefits of solar to the MA economy The solar industry in Massachusetts has been cranking away for nearly a decade and is on the verge of grinding to a halt. With solar’s future hanging in the balance, we should examine what the wider benefits of solar have been for the state. The State’s main utilities, National Grid and Eversource, enjoy the monopolistic power in the territories that they control, and as such, whatever the price of electricity, they will ALWAYS make a profit. But what happens to the money that their customers pay them every month could have wider implications for the State’s economy. Three scenarios for solar in the state's future. In the “do nothing” scenario, where solar is left to flounder, we’re going…
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Is the outlook for Solar cloudy in Massachusetts?

Is the outlook for Solar cloudy in Massachusetts?

Commercial Solar, Community Solar, Politics
By almost every imaginable measure, Massachusetts’ solar movement has been a resounding success, yet its future is in doubt Pushed forward by a number of tailwinds, including the Federal Investment Tax Credit, the State-imposed Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (which created the SREC and SREC-II Programs), and some of the highest retail prices for electricity in the country - solar in Massachusetts has helped lead the way for the country in moving towards more environmentally sustainable energy generation. In addition, job growth in the Bay State has been robust. The state has added over 15,000 solar employees and almost 100,000 clean energy and efficiency professionals. In fact, Massachusetts ranks only behind the much more populous California among states with the most people employed in the solar industry. Unfortunately, this means that…
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Next Step Living reaches over 10,000 reservations for community solar gardens

Next Step Living reaches over 10,000 reservations for community solar gardens

Community Solar
Even amid the strong growth of the U.S. solar market, community solar, where customers sign up for shares in remote utility-scale solar projects, stands out as an area of particularly rapid expansion. In June GTM Research estimated that the U.S. community solar market would grow five-fold this year to reach 115 MW, and would grow to over 500 MW annually by 2020. An announcement today by Massachusetts-based Next Step Living is in line with these trends. The company reports that it has reached nearly 11,000 reservations for community solar gardens, with more than 1,500 contracts for gardens expected to go live in late November in Western Massachusetts. Next Step Living says that at these rates, Massachusetts residents are signing up for around 2 MW of solar PV per month. In Massachusetts, community…
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Are Solar Subsidies Unfair?

Are Solar Subsidies Unfair?

Net Metering
The latest pushback against solar power has centered on the benefits that accrue to owners of solar panels, with the intent of making them appear to be “free riders”, unfairly extracting gains to themselves at the expense of their neighbors. Utilities have taken particular issue with Net Metering, and doing everything they can to quash it by pointing their fingers at the owners of solar arrays, accusing them of “leaching” from the system. Let’s be clear: they are not. As much as the utilities would like you to believe (and who else would be fomenting these arguments), the current array of benefits and incentives are not the result of the all-powerful lobby of “ordinary citizens”. Nor are they the result of the lobbying efforts of the likes of Goliath’s like…
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‘Community solar’ is a hot business

‘Community solar’ is a hot business

Community Solar
Interest in solar energy is booming in Massachusetts, and it's no different in Lunenburg. At a recent Board of Selectmen's meeting, representatives from Nexamp, a solar-energy provider, discussed a proposed community-solar project that would involve the development of a 500-kilowatt solar farm on Fisher Road in Fitchburg. [adinserter block="1"] For this, Nexamp would treat Lunenburg as an "anchor tenant," meaning that half of the electricity generated through net-metering credits would benefit the town, representatives said. Ratepayers would have a 15 percent discount on every bill, they said. At that time, Nexamp needed about 50 more people to sign up, and, according to Joseph Fiori, a Nexamp sales associate, they've been "inundated with requests from the community to join the program." Ideally, they'd like for everyone to join, but the number…
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Amherst residents can still blaze a path to Solar for others to follow

Amherst residents can still blaze a path to Solar for others to follow

Community Solar
Based on feedback I've received from my letter which was published on the Gazette's website on Oct. 22, and which appeared in the Oct 26 print edition, I wanted to write a follow up. The short of it is that the Town of Amherst should be applauded for going solar, no matter which path it chooses. I also understand that my proposal came in far too late in the process to have adequate time to be vetted properly by the Town, and that there are numerous uncertainties (including debt-financing) that would need to be addressed before moving forward, where as SunEdison has provided a straight forward path to reducing the Town’s carbon footprint and to provide a meaningful savings in the process. However - the push to go solar doesn’t…
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The time to raise solar net-metering caps in Massachusetts is NOW

The time to raise solar net-metering caps in Massachusetts is NOW

Politics
Massachusetts State Representative Robert DeLeo (follow him on Twitter), Senate President Stan Rosenberg (also on Twitter!), and others should all be applauded for separating the States net-metering caps from the rest of the energy-related legislation that's currently winding its way through Capitol Hill. The filling of the caps has stalled several solar projects across the state, due to the lack of certainty on the issue, so the sooner there is clarity on that, the sooner they can proceed. That net-metering, on its own, can not break Massachusetts’ dependance on fossil fuels, is certain. What it can do though is dramatically reduce our consumption of those fuels - Bloomberg recently confirmed that solar and wind power are LOWERING the amount of time fossil fuel plants are running - and we can push this success even further…
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