No doubt, you, like most other solar owners, are wondering how could the Patrick Administration and DOER have allowed the utilities to takeover the future of solar PV. There is no question the “Compromise Net Metering Bill,” must be stopped or significantly altered. It is sad to report that the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy voted with little or no discussion to approved the Utility & DOER collaboration, have sent it on to Ways & Means for additional review. Again make no mistake this legislation will negatively effect every solar owner. MASOA stands against this bill now numbered H4185 (click here for full bill text) for the following reasons, and ask everyone reading this to write their legislators to protest both the content and the process used to railroad it through the legislature for the benefit of the utilities:

Legislative Process

  • Solar owners and the local photovoltaic installers industry and other sectors were excluded from the closed-door discussions that produced this bill.
  • The “Compromise Bill” is not a compromise but rather a secret sweetheart deal between the utilities, utility favored (and sponsored) solar organizations and DOER.
  • The pace at which the “Compromise Bill” is being moved through disregards the ability for all stakeholders to adequately comment and make revisions.

Substantive Impacts

  • This bill would add a monthly minimum charge on everyone’s electric bill that targets solar PV (photovoltaic) customers who zero out their bills. This will place an undue and unjustifiable burden on the small PV system owner and sets up the solar industry as the scapegoat responsible for a new charge on everyone’s electric bill.
  • This bill would slash the Virtual Net Metering rate nearly in half, which basically eliminates the viability of community shared solar or other sharing of solar PV systems for people who can’t install their own PV systems on their properties for financial, tenancy, shading, or aesthetic reasons.
  • This bill would limit the size or capacity to generate electricity onsite to a maximum of 100% of the customer’s 3-year electrical demand with the onus on the customer to prove any future electrical needs. Such a provision cannot go further in the WRONG direction, in the face of our need to POUR solar power into our electricity supply, worldwide, in order to pull down greenhouse-gas emissions as rapidly as possible. We do not understand how the Massachusetts legislature can even consider such a law.
  • This bill would replace a known Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) program that serves all with an unknown, yet-to-be-determined, Declining Block Incentive which will be set by DOER and managed by individual utilities each in their own style as ordered through a lengthy and arcane DPU tariff process and then subject to constant amendment at utilities requests forever.

For all of these reasons, we urge you to actively oppose this so-called “compromise bill” both with your own vote and more importantly as a leader and educator among your legislators in the Statehouse.

Keep watching this website for updates … in the meantime start composing your own letters, emails and phone message to send to your representatives and senators (click here) as this legislation is likely to be considered in the next month, or at the latest July 31st.

For further information and clarification on H4185, read SEBANE letter to TUE (click here), and Mass. Stakeholders for Competitive Solar (click here).

One comment on “Will Utility/DOER Compromise Solar PV Future?

  1. Chris Derby Kilfoyle

    Greg Garrison , principal of Northeast Solar shared his letter in opposition to HB 4185 he just sent to all legislators. Here is an excerpt that I thought captures the issues well
    ” Recently I was made aware of House Bill 4185 “An Act relative to Net Metering” that seeks to change the current regulations carefully drafted through broad stakeholder input with a legislative bill negotiated behind closed doors. This has prompted me to contact you to make you aware of this legislation and our industry’s concerns regarding the legislation. I support legislative action that continues to allow the commonwealth to transition from a solely fossil based energy profile to a broader renewable energy profile. I do not support legislation that is drafted to support a narrow business sector, restricts distributed generation or transfers rate payer monies out of the Commonwealth.
    First and foremost it must be recognized that this bill and its provision were negotiated in private and was not representative of the broad solar industry in Massachusetts. No legislation should ever be considered comprehensive that is drafted in this context and therefore should be suspect.
    The overall issue to be considered when appraising this bill is whether the solar industry in Massachusetts will be defined as a financial model or an economic model.
    If you support solar as a financial model,
    • You support large scale solar field development over locally based distributed generation. Large scale residential leasing companies qualify as large scale solar fields. They install thousands of systems a year in our communities and pay nothing to the host communities while they extract the monetary benefits that should support the local economy
    • You accept the transfer of rate payer funds out of state into investment funds not reinvested back into the local economy
    • You allow the utilities to adopt restrictive covenants to restrict the deployment of small owner financed solar installation ensuring that the local economy will be hostage to the cost of energy and the utilities
    • You support transient job growth instead of long term employment in the green economy.

    If you support solar as an economic model
    • You support incentives and legislation that favor the direct ownership of solar for residential and small business domiciled in Massachusetts
    • You ensure that rate payer funds paid out in incentives are carefully monitored to ensure that they remain within the commonwealth to be reinvested to support the state’s economy.
    • You support smart net metering legislation that ensures access to the grid for distributed generation and reasonable financial support for the grid.
    • You support the democratization of solar incentives through the adoption and support of community solar projects.
    • You support the inclusion of municipal utilities into any legislation and incentive program
    There are a number of provisions in this bill that local solar companies object to. Our discussions are ongoing and we analyze and review the bill as presented. We are unified in our position that the local owner based solar model be protected. We are actively organizing our combined customer base which represent tens of thousands of residential and commercial clients that value solar as an economic model. We support the efforts of SEBANE, The Solar Energy Business Association of New England, as the organization most aligned with the interest of the local solar company and promoting solar as an economic model. I urge you to engage them and MASOA in the ongoing negotiations around this legislation.”

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