Boston – As the impasse over the state’s solar net metering program enters its third month, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy held a hearing today to consider solar energy legislation.
“It’s time to go big on solar,” said Ben Hellerstein, campaign organizer for Environment Massachusetts. “Solar is helping reduce Massachusetts’ carbon emissions while strengthening the state’s economy and keeping electricity costs under control. With the right policies in place, we can get at least 20% of Massachusetts’ electricity from solar by 2025.”
Net metering allows solar panel owners to receive fair compensation for the electricity they provide to the grid. In March, a cap on the program was hit for about half of the towns and cities in Massachusetts. As a result, many businesses, local governments, and nonprofits hoping to install solar panels are no longer able to do so.
Baker administration officials have said that they do not support an immediate increase in the net metering caps.
In April, more than a hundred people gathered at the State House for the Stand Up for Solar lobby day and asked legislators to support ambitious solar goals. Lobby day participants delivered letters signed by more than 350 city and town officials, 560 small business leaders, 52 solar industry leaders, and 25 environmental organizations asking Governor Baker to support a goal of 20% solar by 2025.
A recent MassINC poll showed that solar power was the most popular option to replace the region’s coal and nuclear plants, with 73% of respondents in support.
At today’s hearing, Hellerstein reminded legislators that solar enjoys broad support from the general public, local officials, and community leaders in all parts of the state.
“We’ve only begun to make use of Massachusetts’ vast solar energy potential,” said Hellerstein. “By setting a goal of 20% solar by 2025, Massachusetts can continue to lead the nation towards a solar future.”
Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-supported environmental advocacy organization working to protect clean air, clean water, and open space.