Boston — Families and businesses hoping to switch to solar energy were dealt another setback yesterday, when a key solar program hit its cap for towns and cities served by Eversource.
The solar program, known as net metering, reached its cap in communities that receive their electricity from National Grid one year ago today.
“This is unacceptable,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “We should be doing everything we can to expand solar power. State leaders have had a year to lift the caps on solar — and now, even more families and businesses will be affected.”
Net metering provides full and fair credit for the electricity that solar panels feed into the grid. Without net metering, many solar projects — including those that serve low-income communities, renters, and people who can’t install solar on their roofs — cannot go forward.
As a result of the caps, new privately owned solar projects in Eversource service territory will not be able to qualify for net metering. For now, public solar projects — such as those installed on city or town buildings — can still receive net metering in Eversource territory, but about three-quarters of the capacity for public projects has already been used up.
Eversource and National Grid are the two largest electric utilities serving Massachusetts.
A study released today by Vote Solar and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows that inaction on the net metering caps and on another key solar program has already stopped more than 500 solar projects with a value of $617 million.
Massachusetts can get at least 20 percent of its electricity from solar by 2025 with the right policies in place, according to a report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. Achieving 20 percent solar in Massachusetts would reduce global warming pollution as much as taking 1.2 million cars off the road.
“We should be sprinting ahead towards a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Instead, the caps on solar are keeping us stuck in the past,” said Hellerstein. “State officials must lift the caps immediately, preserve the full retail value of net metering credits, and ensure the benefits of solar are available to all.”
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.