- Massachusetts House of Representatives leaders want to remove solar energy issues from the currently proposed comprehensive energy bill and move forward with a separate solar bill that would increase the net energy metering (NEM) cap to 2,400 MWs, the Berkshire Eagle reports.
- The proposal takes up utility concerns with a minimum bill for consumers that have a net energy output. The minimum bill would cover transmission and distribution system costs after the current 1,600 MW of solar by 2020 goal is exceeded. The proposal also orders the state's Department of Public Utilities solar valuation study to determine the amount of the minimum bill.
- House leaders say they hope to deal with legislation on solar issues before the mid-November recess of the Massachusetts General Court.
Mass. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D) intends to pass the comprehensive energy bill in 2016 but wants to handle solar separately and sooner. House Rep. Thomas Golden (D), who also chairs the House Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, proposed the new cap and minimum bill.
In July, the Massachusetts state Senate adopted amendment 18 to state Senate Bill 1973. If passed by the House, it would increase the cap on net metered solar to 1,600 MW, approximately doubling the current 4% of peak electricity load cap on private projects and 5% cap on public projects.
S.1973 is the state Senate’s version of the comprehensive energy bill sought by DeLeo. The solar amendment is intended to support reaching the 1,600 MW solar goal set by former Gov. Deval Patrick (D) in 2013 and endorsed by current Gov. Charlie Baker (R).
Baker has also proposed his own, less aggressive bill to raise net metering caps for public and private institutions both by 2% each, which his energy secretary called a "compromise bill."
The 2,400 MW cap "might be a little more than maybe we should go before net metering is redefined," EnergySecretary Matthew Beaton told the Berkshire Eagle. He said the governor's "simpler" bill would allow solar to be sold back to the grid in tiered rates depending on the type of installation, instead of allowing for minimum bills.
Massachusetts installed the fourth most solar in 2014; its 925 MW is the sixth biggest U.S. cumulative solar capacity. But growth has slowed since the 171 communities in the National Grid's eastern Massachusetts service territory have neared that utility’s cumulative NEM peak load cap.