Solar energy caps once again blocking progress, environmentalists, civic organizations, and industry leaders say

For Immediate Release

Boston – At a hearing today on solar legislation, advocates presented a letter signed by more than 80 environmental groups, civic organizations, and businesses urging state leaders to eliminate the caps on net metering, a key solar energy program.

Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:

“If we’re serious about repowering Massachusetts with renewable energy, we need to eliminate the obstacles standing in the way — and a good place to start is the cap on the state’s most important solar program.

“There’s no limit to the amount of local, renewable, pollution-free energy we can harvest from the sun. So why should we allow arbitrary limits to stand in the way of people who want to switch to solar?

“A future powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy is within reach — and that means cleaner air and water, stronger communities, and a safer future for our children. Why wait another day to tap our solar potential? Let’s fix this problem now.”

Net metering is a policy that allows for full compensation for solar energy provided to the grid. The total amount of solar power eligible for net metering in each utility territory is capped under state law. While the Legislature acted last April to lift the net metering caps, these caps have already been hit again in many communities, preventing families, businesses, and institutions from switching to solar.

Additionally, the Legislature cut the value of net metering credits by 40 percent, making it harder for renters, low-income families, and others to switch to solar.

Studies have shown that net metering is a fair way to compensate solar owners for the value they provide to the electric grid.

Solar energy has grown more than 300-fold in Massachusetts since 2007. Massachusetts has nearly twice as much solar installed as Texas and more than three times as much as Florida, thanks to supportive state policies.

While the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources is developing a new incentive called the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, the letter explains that SMART is not a substitute for net metering. Even when SMART is in place, Massachusetts will still need a robust net metering policy to ensure the continued growth of solar energy.

The letter urges state leaders to eliminate the caps on net metering, or at least raise them by no less than five percentage points. Additionally, the letter asks officials to restore the full value of net metering credits, especially for solar projects serving low-to-moderate income communities.

View the letter here.

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Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.