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A Change for Solar in Massachusetts

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A Change for Solar in Massachusetts

Just last week, Massachusetts-based solar workers rallied at the Massachusetts State House to put the pressure on legislature to act in support of the solar industry.

According to reports from The Solar Foundation, Massachusetts ranks high for solar employment, having the second largest solar workforce in the country. In fact, the solar industry has more than 11,500 people employed in Massachusetts, resulting in an excess of $5B in investment to the state’s economy in recent years.  With the end of legislative session being right around the corner (July 31, 2018), there is a definite need and demand for taking action when it comes to the interest of solar in Massachusetts.

Some of the groups behind the positive movement in the solar direction include MassSolar, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Vote Solar, the Coalition for Community Solar Access and the Solar Energy Business Association of New England, all of which held meetings urging legislators to support the solar workforce.  A few areas targeted include:

·       Removal or raising of net metering caps to match the SMART program.

·       Programs including SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) and the RPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard)

·       Revision of Monthly Minimum Reliability Contribution (MMRC) charge on new solar customers including Eversource territories.  The MMRC charge that was approved earlier this year will apply to new net metering customers as of Dec. 31, 2018. It includes a higher customer charge and imposes demand charges on all net metering customers, including residential.

There are very clear benefits to a booming solar industry in Massachusetts including but not limited to taxpayer savings, lower electric costs, public health benefits, environmental benefits and increased local jobs.  Such benefits are being threatened by the recent decrease in solar which is evident in the 21% drop in solar employment in 2017.  On top of that, Eversource’s proposal to tax solar customers through a demand charge has made solar less economical and new solar customers’ bills less certain. Solar companies are becoming wary of continuing to invest in Massachusetts as it could be on the cusp of becoming an unstable market, but according to advocates, this can be changed. 

Across the state, solar advocates have been pushing and are ready to see the change that needs to happen to improve solar use in Massachusetts.  Overall, the message boils down to three clear requests: Raise the net metering caps; eliminate Eversource’s solar demand charge; and make sure that the SMART Program functions properly and as intended. 

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