Residential Solar Suffers a Major Blow from Latest DPU Decision

Boston, MA

On Friday, January 5, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ issued an order to approve rate changes for Eversource Energy (DPU docket 17-05) despite strong opposition and intervention from the solar industry. Beginning Dec 31, 2018, a Monthly Minimum Reliability Contribution “MMRC” charge will mean higher customer costs and demand charges for all net metering customers in Eversource territory.

“Demand charges” are based on the highest peak hourly usage by a customer over the course of a month, regardless of when that electricity is used. In contrast to “time-of-use” rates that signal to customers when it costs more to use electricity, demand charges are not designed to incentivize customers to reduce overall peak demand (and therefore costs) on the overall electricity system. Time-of-use rates currently available to commercial and industrial customers will also be eliminated as soon as Feb. 1, 2018.

“The DPU’s approval of the Eversource rate case represents a major blow to the Massachusetts solar industry—particularly to the residential market. This is at a time when residential solar is being hit by a significant step down in state incentives and is under threat by a possible tariff on imported panels from the Trump administration,” said Mark Sylvia, President of SEBANE. “Massachusetts is now the only state in America that has implemented a mandatory demand charge, as part of a minimum monthly reliability charge on solar, that will increase costs for residents and other consumers who want to take advantage solar and its many benefits. This is a huge step back from the national leadership position Massachusetts has held on solar over the past decade.

“Moreover, in the wake of mounting evidence of the negative impacts of climate change, including the recent flooding in Boston, it seems ill-advised to take steps that will limit our ability to combat this real threat,” Sylvia added. “Solar growth in the Commonwealth has created thousands of jobs, generated real savings for consumers and contributed to the gains we’ve made to combat climate change. We urge the DPU and the Baker Administration to reverse this decision. Should they decide not to do so, we call upon the State Legislature to intervene.”

The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Acadia Center and other clean energy advocacy groups have all issued similar statements expressing strong disappointment and serious concern with the decision. Vote Solar announced on January 11, 2018 that they will be appealing the DPU’s decision to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. “SEBANE stands ready to assist Vote Solar however we can in support of their appeal, and we will be actively engaging with the Baker Administration and the State Legislature to address this decision,” promised Sylvia.

We will need our members help in this effort and will be reaching out soon with more detail. In the interim, here are a couple of good sources for more detail and perspective on the decision:

SEBANE's Board President Mark Sylvia will be testifying on behalf of the solar industry at a public hearing of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, on January 30 at 1pm, in the Massachusetts State House, regarding the imposition of a demand charge on net metering customers as a result of this order.



About SEBANE: SEBANE’s mission is to protect and promote the New England solar industry through informed policy intervention, coalition building and stakeholder education. Since 2001, we have helped fuel the growth of a strong and sustainable regional solar energy economy. We support and represent businesses across the entire solar value chain in New England. Learn more by contacting us:

Media Contact: Mark Sylvia, President, SEBANE Board of Directors

Susan Howe

SEBANE, PO Box 1181 141 N Pleasant Street , Amherst, MA 01004-1181