Solar Leaders Thank Governor Baker, Legislature for Passing, Signing Solar Compromise

April 11th, 2016

BOSTON – Solar leaders today thanked Governor Baker, the House and Senate for their support of legislation expanding one of the nation’s most successful solar programs, net metering, and ensuring that solar workers get back to work in the Commonwealth and urged leaders not to lose momentum toward longer-term plans to address the state’s energy challenges.

A national leader in solar development, Massachusetts’ growing solar industry provides the Commonwealth with good-paying local jobs, cleaner air, cost savings for consumers and municipalities, and investment and tax revenues in local communities.

“We commend the Governor and lawmakers for clearing the way for more solar power that will benefit our ratepayers, our communities and our planet. By removing an unnecessary barrier to solar growth, this compromise bill will immediately put people back to work and expand consumer solar options in Massachusetts,” said Sean Garren, northeast regional manager at Vote Solar. “We now look forward to working with state leaders to on a longer-term, data-driven plan to address the Commonwealth’s energy challenges by taking full advantage of all that homegrown, reliable and affordable solar power has to offer.”

According to recent research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar, the solar legislation will allow more than 500 solar projects on the waiting list to move forward, resulting in some $600 million in investment to return to the Commonwealth. This bill remains a short-term compromise, concerning solar supporters due to a significant cut to the rates at which customers are credited for solar power and interim, three percent raise of the caps on net metering. These cuts will endanger the economic equation for low-income and community shared solar projects, making these savings inaccessible for many Bay State residents in the long term.

“This is a positive development for the Commonwealth’s solar industry and will enable it to move forward with near term solar projects that will preserve local jobs and provide economic, energy and environmental benefits to Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities,” said Peter Rothstein, president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC). “NECEC is committed to working with the Legislature and the Baker Administration to develop a permanent solution based on a long-term sustainable solar policy framework that reduces costs, benefits customers and recognizes the value that solar provides for all customers.”

“In moving forward with pro-solar policies, Governor Baker and the legislature showed significant leadership and a commitment to restarting an economic engine in Massachusetts,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at SEIA. “We are proud to be a part of the coalition that helped push this legislation over the finish line and we can’t wait to start delivering on the promise of clean air and well-paying jobs that solar energy offers.”

Solar advocates and many legislative leaders reiterated the need to work with legislators to turn this short-term compromise into a long-term solution to our energy needs. Governor Baker underscored the importance of policy that “creates certainty in an area where we’ve had uncertainty” over the past several years. Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee Co-Chair Senator Benjamin Downing said on the floor of the Senate before the vote, “In sum total, I believe this compromise is an important step to keep solar working and combat climate change. But it is not the last step.” House Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee Co-Chair Representative Thomas Golden reiterated support for solar and net metering, saying, “I believe we have and will continue to support solar through net metering and through the SREC program.”

“SEBANE is relieved that the regulatory limits that came very close to suffocating the vibrant Massachusetts solar industry are now being lifted,” said Bill Stillinger, president of SEBANE. “Today’s law is of great help, but to be realistic it is only a short-term patch: the undeniable trend is that electricity customers demand to have clean, distributed energy resources in their hands. SEBANE stands ready to work with the Baker Administration and the Legislature to develop a long-term solar policy; one that would establish a reliable and sustainable solar marketplace, one that recognizes the value that solar provides for all customers.”

“We thank the legislature and Governor Baker for recognizing the importance of equal access for all customers to participate in and benefit from local clean energy.  With the passage of this legislation, dozens of new community solar projects will break ground throughout the Commonwealth, and Massachusetts will continue to have the opportunity to lead on expanding access to solar for all,” said Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA).

For more information, please contact: Stephen Eisele, seisele@melwoodglobal.com(617) 676-3012