Compromise clean energy legislation was passed by both the Massachusetts House and Senate yesterday. Included were some notable wins, yet H.4857 leaves considerable work for the road ahead.

The bill provides a modest legislative fix for the unfair and confusing Eversource demand charge and increases the RPS to 2%. This legislation will help support SEBANE’s member base of over 60 companies and the solar industry as a whole, which employs more than 11,500 people in Massachusetts and has brought more than $5 billion of investment to our state in the past few years. Yet, it leaves the question of net metering unsolved while hundreds of projects have stopped short after the caps were met almost two years ago. Here’s more of how the solar industry is affected by Massachusetts’ new Act to Advance Clean Energy.

·      Changes to MMRC language mean that demand charges (like the one proposed by Eversource) are prohibited on Class 1 NEM facilities, but may be assessed in cases where the consumer is regularly informed of how demand charges are calculated and how they can manage their demand

·       The Massachusetts RPS will increase by 2% per year until 2030, and by 1% per year thereafter.

·       The Clean Peak Standard directs DOER to establish a baseline from the current percentage of kWh sales from existing clean peak resources during seasonal peak load hours. Each year starting in 2019, retail suppliers must provide an additional 0.25% per year to be met with clean peak certificates.

·       Sections on energy efficiency make energy storage, other active demand management technologies, strategic electrification, and programs that result in customers switching to renewable energy sources or other clean energy technologies eligible under EE programs.

·       A new energy storage target of 1,000 MWh by 2025 was established with the stipulation that DOER consider a variety of policies to encourage the cost-effective deployment of storage.

·       The bill does not include an increase in the caps on net metering, raising concerns about the rollout of SMART and the Alternative On-Board Credit Mechanism. These new incentives cannot address the full value of solar and thus leave out a key driver of clean energy deployment through net metering.

Vote Solar, MassSolar, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE) and the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), issued the following statement regarding clean energy legislation passed in Massachusetts yesterday:

“We thank the legislature for reaching agreement on legislation that will address a number of necessary clean energy policies. An important portion of this legislation was addressing Eversource’s confusing and damaging new charge on solar customers, which had been approved by the Department of Public Utilities. This unprecedented residential ‘demand charge’ would have drastically slowed residential solar growth and made solar customers’ bills higher and completely unpredictable. This legislation represents a rejection of this type of charge for solar and residential customers. In addition, increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) strengthens the foundation for renewable energy success and lets the world know Massachusetts remains open for clean energy business.

“But small commercial and business solar projects across the Commonwealth will remain stalled as the legislation leaves a needless barrier to customer adoption of solar, caps on Massachusetts’ most successful solar program, net metering, in place. With just hours left in the session, it appears the urgent action needed to get solar back to work for the Commonwealth will wait for another year.

“For longer than a decade, Massachusetts’ solar success has led to consumer savings, economic growth, job creation and environmental benefits. We appreciate the conference committee’s work on addressing Eversource's solar charge and the RPS and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves together again tomorrow to make lasting progress for clean energy in Massachusetts.”

Follow SEBANE on Twitter for daily coverage of #mapoli and clean energy progress in the Northeast region.

Other coverage on clean energy at the end of the MA legislative session can be found here:

·      Commonwealth Magazine: Clean Energy Legislation Makes it Out of Conference

·      Vote Solar: Clean Energy Legislation Moves Forward

·      SHNS: Clean Energy Bill Architect Hungry for Next Bill

·      NECEC: Clean Energy Group Commends Legislature

Joan Wilson