Solar runs up against net metering cap in Massachusetts
- The National Grid service territory in Massachusetts is near or at the net metering cap beyond which new solar installations would not be eligible for retail rate remuneration on electricity they send to the grid.
- Due to faster-than-expected growth since last summer, no more public sector solar is eligible for net energy metering (NEM) for National Grid customers, the Boston Globe reports. Only 0.01% of its allowable amount for private sector customers remained available at midday March 30.
- Statewide, there are about 250 MW of solar capacity still eligible for NEM. The NEM cap is set at 1,000 MW, about 4-5% of the state’s generation.
Utilities say rooftop solar causes a shift of costs for grid infrastructure to non-solar customers. When rooftop systems lower a customer's demand for electricity, their demand charges are proportionately reduced and non-solar customers must make up costs for transmission and distribution infrastructure.
National Grid approved about 20 MW of solar installations in the last week and presently has a private sector 10 MW solar project queue, according to the Cadmus Group, which tracks the net metering caps for the state. Once the cap is reached, project development in National Grid territory will stop. Developers will be forced into territories served by Eversource Energy and rural cooperative utilities.
State lawmakers raised the cap last year and could again. A multi-stakeholder working group proposed compromise legislation last year that would have eliminated the cap on NEM in favor of a “minimum bill” that utilities agreed would reduce the cost shift impact. The proposal would have also replaced the state’s solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) with a tiered, performance-based incentive system. It was not passed.
- Boston Globe Mass. solar projects could soon reach a limit