Net metering cap is hit, leaving Massachusetts’ solar future uncertain

For Immediate Release

Boston – Massachusetts’ rapidly growing solar industry faced a potential setback today as the net metering cap for privately-owned solar projects in National Grid’s service territory was hit.

Net metering, one of Massachusetts’ most important solar programs, allows solar panel owners to receive fair credit for the electricity they provide to the grid. Current legislation caps the amount of solar capacity eligible for net metering in each utility’s service territory. The cap for public (or government-owned) projects in National Grid territory was hit approximately two weeks ago.

“Our state’s leaders should act soon to raise the net metering caps in Massachusetts,” said Ben Hellerstein, solar campaign organizer for Environment Massachusetts. “Without immediate action, we could see a significant slowdown in Massachusetts’ solar industry, which supports more than 12,000 jobs.

“But it’s not enough just to raise the caps — we need our leaders to take solar to the next level by setting big goals and by supporting policies that will make the benefits of solar available to all," Hellerstein continued. "That’s why we’re asking Governor Charlie Baker to commit to getting at least 20 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity from solar by 2025.”

Currently, about half of all Massachusetts solar installations subject to the net metering cap are in National Grid territory. (Smaller solar installations — for example, those typically installed on the roofs of single-family homes — are exempt from the cap.)

Solar energy has grown more than 100-fold in Massachusetts since 2006, helping reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful forms of air pollution. Massachusetts was fourth in the nation for the amount of solar installed in 2014, beating out Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

According to a study from the Solar Foundation, Massachusetts now employs more workers in the solar industry than any other state except California.

Solar supporters are planning to gather at the State House on Tuesday, April 7, to press lawmakers to raise the net metering caps and support a goal of 20% solar by 2025.