Considering that our Governor is such a huge supporter of solar energy you would think our Attorney General would be as well, especially with the state law 40A Section 3 that reads as follows: No zoning ordinance or by-law shall prohibit or unreasonably regulate the installation of solar energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of solar energy, except where necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare. When asked Ms. Coakley refused to answer why the Ag approved anti-solar bylaws and deferred it to Margaret Hurley, Dir. of Municipal Law Unit. Ms. Hurley responded by saying the AG has limited power to disapprove local zoning, “[i]t is fundamental that every presumption is to be made in favor of the validity of municipal by-laws.” Adding “we regularly include a caution in our solar by-law decisions along the following lines: General Laws Chapter 40A, § 3 protects solar energy systems and the building of structures that facilitate the collection of solar energy … there are no court decisions to guide the Town and this Office in determining what qualifies as an unreasonable regulation of solar uses in contravention of G.L. c. 40A, § 3. However, the Town should be mindful of this requirement in applying [the zoning by-law] and consult closely with Town Counsel during the process.”
In the last few months’ solar PV growth has been under attack from a variety of sources beginning with the DOER whose new proposed legislation is designed to severely slow new solar growth through proposed changes in the SREC2 program (members see more on this at “Member Pages”). Now it is Net Metering that is facing new proposed legislation designed to restrict new solar growth, and would require current Net Metering participants to pay fees to continue to receive net metering credit. Senator Rodrigues has filed bill S2030 under the misleading title “An act reducing the cost of solar power through increased competition.” Those of you who are familiar with the Orwellian term doublespeak will understand after reading this proposed legislation that the reduction of cost of solar energy means the elimination of solar net meter incentives and the reference of increased competition actually means allowing fossil fuels to again be the utilities dominate energy source unfettered by Net Metering or REC/SREC pollution penalties. Another bill S2019, while far from what MASOA would like to see, keeps Net Metering capacity open for two years until such time a “committee” determines new percentage caps (members can see full versions of these bills and MASOA response). A Senate/House joint committee begins review of both bills March 11th. MASOA encourages all solar owners to contact their senators and representatives to stand up against the utilities attempt to end Net Metering. MAKE NO MISTAKE … if you own solar, this new legislation affects YOU! Now is the time to join MASOA (click here), with your support we can keep solar growing in Massachusetts.