The Massachusetts solar industry was thrown a life preserver from the state Senate, which passed SB 2545 yesterday. Not only does the bill raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) it also contains two provisions critical for the continued growth of the industry in the state.
First, it proposes a raise to the current cap on net-metering, a popular policy that is critical to the growth of solar energy across most states in the U.S. Second, it contains a proposal by Senator Michael J. Barrett to eliminate demand charges. The impetus for the demand charge amendment is a ruling by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) late last year that beginning in 2019 Eversource can impose an unprecedented demand charge fee on customers who choose to add solar panels to their home, church or small business. Vote Solar estimated this demand charge could add $4400 to $9400 to the cost of a home solar system over the course of its lifetime (systems in Boston currently cost around $18,400, for reference).
Massachusetts is a top state nationwide as far as the size of its solar industry and its citizens’ desire to increase investments in clean energy. The solar industry is really banking on this bill to eliminate the demand charge and keep momentum rolling, even staging rallies to help enact change.
“The Senate today passed a bill that would leap Massachusetts back into contention as a national leader on clean energy,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Senior Director for Vote Solar. “By setting a higher bar for renewable energy and removing barriers to citizens’ right to choose solar, the bill will put thousands to work delivering cleaner air, a safer climate and stronger local economies. Vote Solar applauds the Senate’s leadership on climate and clean energy and urges to House to swiftly act on this critical legislation.”
It is now up to both branches to reach an agreement on provisions vital to send to Governor Baker’s desk.
— Solar Builder magazine