Just Raise the Cap! Don’t rewrite Massachusetts Solar PV Policy
As a Massachusetts [resident, business, etc], I have a strong interest in the continued growth of and expanded access to solar energy. Solar PV generation has the potential to play a major role in building healthier and more resilient communities, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining a reliable electricity grid. H. 4185 is an unnecessary rewrite of the Commonwealth’s successful solar PV policies. Among other things, it will undermine the ability of a majority of residents and businesses to fully benefit from solar PV generation. For these reasons, I am asking you to Just Raise the Net Metering Caps before the session ends on July 31st.
Raising the net metering caps now is needed to ensure that new solar projects can be developed. As you may be aware, the net metering cap has already been hit in some utility territories and will be hit soon in others. Without a cap raise, new projects won’t come online and we will not be able to achieve the Governor’s 1600 MW solar target.
While H.4185 does address the net metering cap issue, it also rewrites Massachusetts successful net metering and solar incentive program. The proposed changes will greatly reduce the financial viability of community shared solar and PV projects designed to benefit low income and urban communities; limit the rights of rooftop solar system owners; impose a minimum bill on all electricity distribution customers; and favor large-scale solar development at the expense of local companies and small installers. Citizens, solar owners and customers, consumer groups, environmental organizations and others were not included in these negotiations nor have they had a chance to share their views on the legislation in an open and public forum.
Furthermore, it has come to our attention that H.4185 includes “model legislative policies” from ALEC. (American Legislative Exchange Council funded by the Koch family) The utilities’ proposals to diminish the value of solar net metering are lifted directly from the ALEC play book on Net Metering. The Chair of the ALEC Committee on Energy, Environment and Agriculture is also the Director of Public Policy at American Electric Power (one of the largest utilities in the USA) that owns one of the largest Coal-fired power plants in the USA (located in Ohio) sending pollution and acid rain our way. In Ohio, the utilities achieved a suspension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
In Massachusetts, ALEC’s initial target is solar net metering. What’s next? Eliminating the RPS? Arguing no compensation for environmental and social benefits for renewable energy at all? These are the ALEC tenets regarding renewable energy.
At this late stage in the session, the concerns surrounding H. 4185 are too many to fix and the risk of passing the legislation too great. In lieu of passing H. 4185, please support a legislative amendment to Just Raise the Caps and preserve the existing solar policy framework.
Just Raise the Caps! Let’s keep Massachusetts solar moving forward for all.