Boston — After more than a year of campaigning by environmental activists and business leaders, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill to expand a key solar program today.
The bill lifts the caps on net metering, a program that provides fair compensation for the electricity produced by solar panels. A cap on net metering was hit more than a year ago, halting solar projects in towns and cities across Massachusetts.
Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement in response:
“Finally, solar energy can move ahead in Massachusetts — thanks in no small part to the thousands of grassroots activists, local officials, and business leaders who have spoken out for solar. Thanks are also due to the state officials who have fought hard to expand solar.
“The bill signed today has the potential to add enough solar to power 100,000 homes with clean, renewable energy. That’s a big step forward for clean air and water, a safe climate, and a thriving local solar industry.
“While it addresses the immediate obstacle standing in the way of solar power, today’s legislation does not go far enough to ensure the long-term growth of solar. We are concerned about provisions that will cut the value of some net metering credits and open the door for a minimum utility bill for solar owners. These changes could make it harder for many — including renters, low-income families, and people who can’t install solar on their roofs — to access the benefits of solar. We urge officials to address these concerns through legislation and administrative action.
“What we need is a policy that keeps solar growing for the long term and ensures that its benefits are available to all. Massachusetts must get to 100 percent clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible, and solar has a critical role to play. All of us — solar advocates, legislators, and administration officials — have more work ahead of us.”
How Environment Massachusetts made a difference in the fight for solar
Environment Massachusetts worked with a broad coalition of environmental organizations, business leaders, faith communities, grassroots activists, low-income advocates, and others to rally public support for solar.
Here are some of the ways that Environment Massachusetts worked to convince state leaders to expand solar energy:
- We rallied grassroots support. Environment Massachusetts mobilized more than 1,900 people to call their elected officials and urge them to support solar. We also generated thousands of emails and petition signatures in support of solar energy.
- We mobilized local leaders. Environment Massachusetts worked with more than 1,000 local elected officials, business owners, faith leaders, low-income advocates, and other community leaders to speak out for solar.
- We generated media coverage. Environment Massachusetts generated more than 200 stories about the benefits of solar energy in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across the state. Last July, as the debate over solar was heating up, we visited 10 cities in two weeks as part of our “Soak Up the Sun” tour to bring media attention to the local impacts of the solar caps.
- Our research made the case for solar energy. We wrote and released 10 research reports that documented the benefits of solar energy and identified key policies to promote solar growth.
- We brought the message directly to state officials. Together with our partners, we organized grassroots lobby days that resulted in more than 175 face-to-face conversations with legislators and their staff.
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.