BOSTON - Massachusetts House members yesterday voted 152-1 in favor of legislation (H. 4173) that raises the solar net metering cap by 3 percent, but slashes the net metering reimbursement rate by 40 percent. The bill also expressly authorizes electric utilities to petition the Department of Public Utilities to add a minimum charge, with no ceiling, to all solar customers’ bills. Municipal solar projects are exempted from the cut in net metering reimbursement rates, but are still subject to the net metering cap.
First, let's remember our state's goal of 1600 MWdc of installed solar would generate less than 4% of the our annual electricity consumption; the specious discussions of impact on rate payers is ludicrous ( the state needs to perform a true value of solar study as recommend by the Net Metering and Solar Task Force in their Final Report to the Legislature submitted a year ago; second, we all need to stop picking on solar in its infancy while ignoring the overwhelmingly larger costs of fossil fuel dependence and price volatility, and the manner in which the utilities are socializing risk). Second, this bill WILL NOT move any of the large shovel ready projects that help the Commonwealth gain critical ground on realizing a 21st century energy system; a 40 % reduction in the net metering credit will terminate these power purchase agreement contracts (which take many months of negotiation; so don't expect much regained momentum as developers scramble for customers, who would be prudently way to enter into these long term 20-year+ contracts that involve vulnerability in the back half due to uncertainty in policy, energy market pathways,etc.). Third, the net metering credit reduction is a shameful channeling of money to the utility and their shareholders, who have hijacked the state's path as national leader in energy.
Last, this bill essentially excludes low-income citizens from benefiting from solar, which is shameful for Massachusetts, where we look out after each other and refuse to leave people behind.