Massachusetts issues final proposed solar incentive rules
- The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has issued proposed final regulations for the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, which targets 1,600 MW of new solar resources.
- The final proposal includes a few significant changes, PV Mazazine reports, including boosting the cap on bids for the first 100 MW of auctioned resources to $0.17/kWh.
- The SMART program resulted from Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signing compromise legislation last year that lifted Massachusetts' solar net metering cap by 3% for public and private installations and allows utilities to charge a minimum bill to cover fixed costs.
The Massachusetts SMART program features a novel declining block mechanism for determining solar energy incentives. After setting a base price for the first 100 MW of solar through a competitive auction, the program would allocate eight 200 MW blocks of solar energy over time at declining incentive prices.
Solar advocates approve of changes made to the final proposed regulations, PV Magazine reports, ranging from higher bid caps to loosening some restrictions on how project size is calculated. The next step, they say, is to raise the net metering caps again.
Last year Baker signed a measure lifting net metering caps by 3%, but critics argued it was a short-term fix since the state has raised its cap before without substantial net metering reform, only to hit it again.
Before the limit was raises last year, net metering projects were capped at 4% of the utility's load for private projects and 5% for municipal and government projects. The new limits raised the caps to 7% for private projects and 8% for public projects.
Large-scale distributed solar projects — such as community solar arrays or big installations for C&I customers — will see their net metering rate fall to near the wholesale rate of electricity after the 1,600 MW goal is reached.
The SMART program incentives are aimed at projects up to 5 MW.
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