Yesterday, solar workers, industry leaders, and activists showed up to remind legislators about the impact upcoming legislation could have on the solar industry in Massachusetts. Many of SEBANE's member companies and coalition partners attended a rally on the state house steps and the following lobby day organized by Vote Solar's Northeast Senior Director Sean Garren. Over 100 participants attended 65 meetings with legislators and their aides to emphasize the need for continued growth in solar projects and financing across the state. Our team focused on the following asks:
1. Removing or raising the caps on solar net metering by at least 5%. In order to make for an seamless transition to a new tariff program, we asked legislators to match solar net metering caps with those in the SMART framework. This means supporting H.2712, S.1824, and S.1831.
2. Repealing the damaging Eversource solar tax, which forces a confusing new "Demand Charge" on future solar customers, putting the solar economy at risk. We are asking legislators to pass S.2314 and Budget Amendment 936.
3. Supporting a strong SMART program to drive solar growth, including eliminating utilities' proposal to limit community solar subscribers. An Alternative On-Bill Credit (AOBC) mechanism is presented as an alternative to net metering, but comes with a new harmful cap on customer credits and other conditions that have not been present in previous programs. The DPU must ensure that the new program enables solar development for all consumers and communities, including renters, low- income residents and our cities and towns. We are asking lawmakers to sign on to Rep. Benson's letter to the DPU.
4. Raising the RPS by 3% to set a high bar for all renewable energy industries in the Commonwealth.
Zaid Ahmad Ashai, CEO of member company Nexamp, had this to say: “I’m so proud of the Nexamp team and what they have built over the past decade. As a homegrown company, it’s incredibly rewarding to know that nearly 100 Massachusetts residents wake up each morning on a mission to help transform the energy grid, deploy local renewable energy resources, and deliver meaningful cost savings to thousands of customers on behalf of Nexamp. However, as we expand into new markets, it’s never been clearer that the future of the clean energy economy in the Commonwealth depends entirely on the continued steadfast support of the Legislature and the Baker Administration.”
Solar keeps energy dollars invested in our communities by employing more than 11,500 people in Massachusetts and bringing more than $5 billion of investment to the local economy in the last few years. Last year, however, Massachusetts lost more than 3,000 solar jobs after the net metering cap was hit, effectively slamming the brakes on hundreds of solar projects in more than 170 cities and towns.
Yesterday, the legislature heard loud and clear from the solar industry that we expect support for measures that protect solar developers and customers alike. “For longer than a decade, Massachusetts’ solar success has led to consumer savings, economic growth, job creation and environmental benefits. These benefits are at risk due to an uncertain policy environment that threatens the state’s solar industry,” said Garren. Don't forget to urge your own representative to support these bills and vocalize their support for solar if you haven't already!