Environment Mass. launches 10-city solar tour to highlight local effects of net metering caps

Boston — As limits on a key program slow the growth of solar energy in more than 170 cities and towns, Environment Massachusetts kicked off a 10-city tour today to bring attention to the effects of the solar caps on communities across the state.

“It’s the middle of the summer and we should be doing everything we can to soak up the rays of the sun,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Instead, arbitrary caps on solar power are keeping us in the dark. State officials should help communities take advantage of all of the environmental and economic benefits that solar brings.”

The “Soak Up the Sun” Solar Tour began today in Pittsfield and will visit eight other cities and towns before wrapping up in Boston on Thursday, July 30, at an event in front of the State House.

The events will feature city and town officials, solar business owners, nonprofit leaders, and local residents talking about solar projects in their communities that have stalled because of the caps.

Speakers will include Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliot; Dave McMahon, Executive Director of Dismas House, a nonprofit that helps former prisoners re-enter society; and Gail Latimore, Board Chair of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

In March, a cap on a key solar program known as “net metering” was hit for more than 170 Massachusetts cities and towns. Net metering allows solar panel owners to receive full compensation for the electricity they provide to the grid. As a result of the cap, many businesses, local governments, and nonprofits hoping to install solar panels are no longer able to do so.

Last year, Massachusetts was fourth in the nation for the amount of solar energy installed, with enough solar added to the grid to power 50,000 homes with clean energy. The solar industry supports more than 12,000 jobs statewide.

“Across Massachusetts, people are eager to go solar, but the net metering caps are holding them back,” said Hellerstein. “Our state’s leaders should act soon to raise the net metering caps and commit to a goal of getting 20% of Massachusetts’ electricity from solar by 2025.”

Schedule for the "Soak Up the Sun" Solar Tour:

Monday, July 20: Pittsfield, Northampton
Tuesday, July 21: Springfield
Wednesday, July 22: Lowell, Fitchburg
Monday, July 27: Lawrence
Tuesday, July 28: Fall River, Barnstable
Wednesday, July 29: Worcester
Thursday, July 30: Boston

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Environment Massachusetts is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
www.EnvironmentMassachusetts.org