Massachusetts’ Solar Industry Stands United at Hearing on Net Metering Caps

October 4, 2017
PRESS RELEASE Boston, MA (October 3, 2017) – Industry associations and leading advocates representing Massachusetts’ 495 solar employers, 15,000 solar employees and countless solar customers and supporters, today highlighted the need for immediate action on a suite of bills critical to job creation and economic development in the Commonwealth.
Pointing to last year’s four percent loss of solar jobs and the uncertainty created by shifting state and federal policies, the organizations voiced their support for legislative initiatives to ensure the industry grows and provides more Massachusetts residents and businesses the ability to choose solar.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Vote Solar, Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE), and MassSolar highlighted the following bills and issues of particular importance to continued solar energy development and consumer choice:
·     Raise net metering caps by at least five percent to align with Governor Baker’s new 1,600 megawatt Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program (such as in S.1824/H.2712);
·     Lower solar costs and improve customer experience by improving billing procedures (such as in S.1835); and,
·     Improve the structure of net metering caps to ensure low income and community solar projects can move forward.
The Solar Foundation reports that Massachusetts ranks #2 nationally for jobs in the industry, with over 15,000 workers, and #1 in solar jobs per capita. However, in 2016, the Commonwealth actually reduced its number of solar jobs for the first time, by about 500 jobs, compared with 2015.
“Today, more than 120 projects and tens of millions of investment dollars are being left on the table because of the state’s inability to date to lift the NEM cap,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “Massachusetts has long been a solar leader. Legislative action to raise the caps will provide the industry the long-term certainty needed to keep growing. We urge the Legislature to raise the caps this year.”
"Massachusetts' 15,000 solar workers are helping lead the nation to a future with a stronger economy, healthier communities and a safer climate. As Washington abdicates its responsibility to lead on energy and the environment, the Commonwealth must redouble our efforts," said Sean Garren, Northeast Senior Director at Vote Solar. "The Committee today faces a familiar choice - whether to keep these 15,000 solar workers on the job delivering that brighter tomorrow. It is time to remove the caps on solar net metering and keep us on track."
“In many ways, Massachusetts is the center of the community solar industry in the U.S., with leading companies headquartered and active in the state,” said CCSA Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “But that leadership is at risk as the state considers policies that will determine if community solar can continue to grow and contribute to the state’s economy, environment and energy supply. It’s critical that Massachusetts maintain access for all customers to benefit from local clean energy through community solar.”
"With the SMART program moving closer to implementation, raising the net metering caps is critical to ensuring the Commonwealth can successfully achieve the Baker Administration's target of an additional 1,600 megawatts (MW) of solar," said NECEC President Peter Rothstein. "Failing to increase the net metering caps would not only undermine the deployment of solar in the near-term, but it may jeopardize the long-term success of the SMART program and cause the Commonwealth to miss out on the energy, economic, and environmental benefits it reaps from a vibrant solar market."
“SEBANE and its member solar companies are proud of the progress that has been made in making solar accessible to residents, businesses and municipalities across the Commonwealth, due in part to effective net metering policies,” said SEBANE President Mark Sylvia. “Unfortunately, with net metering no longer available in certain utility territories and the transition to the new SMART program months out, that access has been hampered. We believe that bills presently before the legislature to raise the caps and improve low-income access can address these issues and expand the job creation, cost savings and environmental benefits solar has brought to Massachusetts to date.” 
“Net metering caps have now been hit in 230 communities or 66% of the Commonwealth,” said MassSolar president Mark Sandeen. “Net metering caps are unnecessary restrictions that obstruct the Commonwealth’s transition to a clean, healthy, renewable energy economy. We should be accelerating our adoption of solar power, not putting up roadblocks.”