Boston – As gridlock in the Massachusetts Legislature continues to stymie efforts to expand clean energy, environmental advocates launched a monthlong campaign today marking the one-year anniversary of hitting a cap on solar power, and called on House Speaker Robert DeLeo to act.
“A year is too long to wait,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “The people of Massachusetts have sent a message, loud and clear: It’s time to lift the caps on solar. Now, it’s up to our state’s leaders to act.”
Activists visited polling locations and other public places across the state today, kicking off an effort to generate hundreds of phone calls and emails urging legislators to act immediately on the solar caps and ensure that the benefits of solar are available to all.
In recent months, more than a thousand local officials, business owners, and other community leaders have signed letters asking state officials to expand solar power and commit to a goal of 20% solar by 2025.
"The utility companies and other special interests have stood in the way of solar power for too long," said Emily Norton, Chapter Director for the Massachusetts Sierra Club. "It's time for state leaders to do what's right for our climate and our economy by eliminating the caps on solar power, and ensuring a fair reimbursement rate for solar power."
Last March, communities served by National Grid hit the state’s cap on net metering, a program that allows solar panel owners to receive fair compensation for the electricity they provide to the grid. Many businesses, local governments, and nonprofits are now unable to move forward with solar projects.
Businesses and families hoping to switch to solar were dealt another setback this February, as key incentives known as Solar Renewable Energy Credits or SRECs expired. The state has not yet announced a replacement for the SREC program.
The State Senate passed a bill to address the net metering caps last summer. The House responded in November with a proposal that would slash the value of net metering credits by 75% and impose a minimum utility bill on solar owners, while only lifting the caps by a small amount.
Advocates argued that the House bill would dramatically slow the growth of solar power and make it more difficult for low-income communities, renters, and many businesses and local governments to access the benefits of solar.
Speaker DeLeo and other legislative leaders have not yet indicated when they expect the House and Senate to come to an agreement.
“Thousands of Bay Staters are calling for action,” said Hellerstein. “We can’t let the standoff over solar drag on into a second year. It’s up to Speaker DeLeo to break the legislative logjam and do what’s right for our environment, our economy, and the people of Massachusetts.
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.