A little over an hour into a meeting with Representative Kulik on July 7th, answering his questions and giving him a presentation on MASOA’s five amendment proposals to fix and correct H4185 (click here), he made this simple, yet perfect suggestion, “if the one issue that we can all agree on is that the Net Metering capacity needs to be increased to insure that solar PV growth in Massachusetts is not disrupted, then why not add an amendment to another bill (like the Environmental Bond Bill) to do just that.” This would take the pressure off the Ways & Means Committee to try and fix H4185, and still send it flawed and full of incomplete changes to the House for a vote. With the insurance of Net Metering being addressed as an add-on to another bill that is likely to pass in both houses, the changes and proposals in H4185 can go back to the DOER where the Mass. Solar Stakeholders who were denied input and opinion can do so in a transparent and democratic method not unlike the process to enact SRECII just this past April.
To help expedite this, MASOA has sent proposed “Net Metering Insurance Amendment” language (click here) to every member of the Ways & Means committee. It is important to note that suggesting this approach is not setting a precedent … the last time Net Metering capacity was increased in November 2012 the process was the same as suggested, it was an add on amendment to a Omnibus Budget Bill.
What happens if an add-on Net Metering amendment fails because of time or other reason?
MASOA understands this could happen — so we really need your help to contact and enlist your local representatives and senators to get onboard with this amendment … we only have a week or so in this session. As a fall back and last resort we hope that legislators beginning in Ways & Means will consider our amendments to H4185. HOWEVER to be clear, if both the add-on Net Metering Insurance Amendment and H4185 should fail, this would not be altogether a major crisis for solar PV in Mass. There is still Net Meter capacity in most utility districts, and only a few municipal projects are at risk for delay should this occur. It is not uncommon for there to be informal sessions in the fall and that could be the time Net Metering capacity is addressed … just like it was in 2012. To learn more, and get a sample letter to send legislators to encourage them to support the simple solution of a add-on amendment instead of voting in favor of H4185 click here
UPDATE JULY 16 — H4185 still in Ways & Means
Thanks to all your phone calls, emails and letters, H4185 is no longer on the fast track, and our legislators appear to be listening to the 98% of solar stakeholders who were denied input and comment on this secretly drafted special interest bill. But it has not been easy for legislators as the utility lobbyists, DOER and even a few other colleges are continuing to push hard for the bill’s passage as the only solution to increasing the Net Metering Cap. Many of our members have been asked by legislators to respond to a letter from Representative Smizik (click here) that is very compelling while glossing over the negative impact H4185 will cause. Should you find when talking or writing your local legislator this letter is referenced, MASOA has put together a response (click here) that clarifies many of issues such as why this bill is not in fact a compromise, and the best method to raise the net metering cap. We still have two weeks to go, so keep calling and writing your legislators … tell them you want the Net Metering Cap increase ONLY, and would they be willing to sponsor a add-on amendment (send them to this website – MASOA.org) to another bill that is most likely to pass both the House and Senate.