Massachusetts

Massachusetts is taking serious steps towards renewable energy, and solar is at the forefront of the action. Conversations regarding the technology are ongoing in the state legislature, regulatory agencies, and communities around the state.  In fact, in July 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature passed – and Governor Baker later signed into law – a comprehensive energy bill that will require the state to purchase significantly more energy from offshore wind and other renewable sources, including solar.

  •  Current and Recent Issues:
    • In August 2016, Governor Baker signed into law the following comprehensive energy bill passed by the state legislature:
      • 4568, An Act to Promote Energy Diversity
        • The law requires Massachusetts to solicit long-term contracts – lasting 15 or 20 years – for 1,200 megawatts of hydropower or other renewable resources, such as land-based wind or solar.
    • In April 2016, after five months of negotiations between the House and the Senate, the state legislature finally passed – and Governor Baker signed into law ­­– the following compromise bill lifting the cap on solar net metering:
      • 1979, An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change
        • The law lifts the cap on solar net metering by three percent for public and private projects, which are projects owned by both governments and businesses
        • The law lowers the reimbursement rate by 40 percent for most new projects from the retail rate – which previously ranged from 17 cents to 21 cents per kilowatt hour – to 11 or 12 cents per kilowatt hour
        • Projects owned by governments and municipalities and small residential projects still receive the full retail rate
    • In November 2015, the Massachusetts legislature considered several bills aimed at changing the state’s net metering rates and caps. The proposed bills have stalled and are in danger of not passing. Included among the bills where:
      • SB 1973, An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change
        • Amendment 18 – lays the groundwork for community-shared solar net metering, eliminate the caps for solar net metering and emphasize solar distributed generation; would immediately raise net metering caps to 1,600 MW of solar capacity for the entire state, instead of the current rules, which split the caps between utility service territories.
      •  HB 3724An Act Relative to a Long-Term, Sustainable Solar Industry
        • Would raise the Commonwealth’s net metering cap and would lower net metering rates and other incentives with the goal of creating a long-term, sustainable solar industry.
      • HB 3854An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change
        • Would reduce the Commonwealth’s net metering credits and make it equal to the excess kilowatt-hours by time of use billing period, and if applicable, would multiplied by the average monthly energy clearing price in the ISO-NE load zone in which the net metering facility is located.
      • S.2058An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change
        • Would create a credit equal to the basic service kilowatt-hour charge in the ISO-NE load zone where the customer is located in attempt to harmonize SB 1973 and HB 3854.
  • Legislative Activity and Committees:
    • The House Ways and Means Committee has a duty to consider all legislation that affects Massachusetts’ finance and related matters. It is currently reviewing SB 1973 because it affects utility rates and the Commonwealth’s finances.
    • The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy has a duty to consider all matters concerning telecommunications, energy resources, public utilities, and other related issues.  House bills 2852, 2879, and 3724 are currently being considered by the Committee.