United States: The Future Of Net Metering Caps For Solar Technologies In Massachusetts

The Massachusetts legislature is expected to change existing state laws regarding net metering for renewable energy technologies before the end of the current legislative session, which is expected to conclude at the end of the year. A number of proposals have been floated regarding net metering, and more may be made before the end of the session. This article explores four bills that are now pending in the legislature, which may provide some indication of the ultimate resolution on net metering.

SB 1973, An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change. SB 1973 was originally sponsored by the Massachusetts Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and addressed climate change adaptation management plans. As SB 1973 made its way through the Massachusetts Senate, an amendment (Amendment 18) was added addressing the solar industry specifically, in the following manner: 

  • Amendment 18 creates a special carve-out for solar net metering, consistent with previously enacted solar carve-outs within the state's renewable portfolio standard rules: the SREC-I and SREC-II programs. 
  • Amendment 18 would lay the groundwork for community-shared solar net metering, eliminate the caps for solar net metering and emphasize solar distributed generation (DG).
  • Amendment 18 defines "community-shared solar facility" as a facility that qualifies as a Class I, II or III net metering facility, with three or more eligible recipients of net metering credits. Such facility cannot have more than 50 percent of the credits produced allocated to two recipients, with further restrictions for each remaining recipient. 
  • Amendment 18 also adds the concept of a "solar net metering credit," which would be produced by a solar net metering facility if less than 67 percent of that facility's electrical energy on an annual basis is used by on-site load. Solar net metering credits could be transferred to other customers of the same electric distribution company and applied to the transferee's electric bills, but they could not be used before December 31, 2016. 
  • With regard to net metering caps currently in place (which are currently maxed out in certain service territories), Amendment 18 would immediately raise the caps to 1,600 MW of solar capacity for the entire state, instead of the current rules, which split the caps between utility service territories. 
  • While the 1,600 MW cap is in place, Amendment 18 would require the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to develop an incentive program that is sustainable for the long term and focuses on DG solar renewable generating resources.

SB 1973 (as amended) passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on July 27, 2015.

HB 2852, An Act Relative to Net Metering, Community Shared Solar and Energy Storage. HB 2852 was introduced in January 2015, and scheduled for hearing on June 2, 2015. HB 2852 remains pending before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. 

  • HB 2852 would establish a Commonwealth Solar Program for all retail electricity suppliers selling to end users in the Commonwealth. The program would be structured with the goal of having 20 percent of the retail electricity sold to end-use customers derived from solar electricity by December 31, 2025. In support of this goal, the bill would raise the net metering cap for solar PV net metering facilities to 1,600 MW statewide.
  • The maximum amount of nameplate capacity for facilities eligible for net metering by a municipality or other governmental entity would be 10 MW.
  • Community-shared solar energy systems would be exempt from local property taxes for 20 years from the date of interconnection.
  • The bill would direct the DOER to open a proceeding to establish an energy storage program on or before January 1, 2016, with the program to take effect no later than January 1, 2017.

HB 2852 is moving through the legislature more slowly than other bills such as SB 1973 and HB 3724, which have garnered more attention.

HB 2879, An Act Relative to Net Metering. HB 2879 was also introduced in January 2015. The bill would allow resources that otherwise meet net metering qualifications under current net metering rules to avoid the cap allocation if such eligibility determination is obtained on or before December 31, 2016. HB 2879 was scheduled to go to a hearing on June 2, 2015. However, it was referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy before being set for hearing, where it currently remains.

HB 3724, An Act Relative to a Long-Term, Sustainable Solar Industry. Proposed by the governor after the introduction of Amendment 18 to SB 1973, HB 3724 is aimed at helping Massachusetts reach the goal of 1,600 MW of solar-generated power by 2020. Under this bill, current incentives would continue to be available until the 1,600 MW target is reached. Furthermore, in order to accelerate reaching this goal, the bill proposes that the current net metering cap be expanded by 50 percent for private entities and 40 percent for public entities – which represents an increase up to 6 percent and 7 percent of the requisite distribution company's peak load, respectively. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), also would be given authority to raise the net metering cap when it is in the public interest to do so. When the 1,600 MW target is reached, the incentives would be adjusted in the following ways:

  • All solar generators already receiving net metering credits would continue to receive those credits under existing net metering programs for a period of 20 years.
  • All residential and small-business solar generators would continue to be excluded from existing or future net metering caps.
  • All new medium- and large-scale solar generators would receive net metering credits equivalent to the monthly commodity price of energy.

The bill would also allow DOER to create a solar incentive program for new solar generators and create similar incentive programs for other renewable technologies. HB 3724 was referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on August 10, 2015, and has not yet been set for a hearing.

The governor noted that "in filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the Commonwealth's energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint, and protecting ratepayers."1 Specifically with regard to net metering, Governor Baker filed this legislation in order to provide an additional revenue stream to many solar projects, with the goal of fast-tracking Massachusetts toward the previously stated goal of 1,600 MW by 2020. Beyond the 1,600 MW goal, HB 3724 "provides for a slightly higher credit value for solar installations developed by government entities, municipalities, low income ratepayers, and community shared net metering projects, as the net metering credits for these customers will be at the higher level of the basic service price."2

One distinction between HB 3724 and SB 1973 is the impact each bill would have on distribution companies with respect to their service territories. SB 1973 would raise the net metering cap without regard to service territories that have already reached the cap. HB 3724 would raise the net metering cap but still maintain different caps tied to the particular load of the utility in a customer's service territory. This distinction is important for distribution companies that may be in an area where more customers take advantage of net metering and have already reached the existing caps.

*  *  *

Adjusting the net metering caps for the solar industry in particular continues to be a hot topic for the Massachusetts state legislature. The legislature's action on these bills and/or any other net metering proposals in the coming months, whether it eliminates or adjusts net metering caps or allows the current caps to stand, could have a substantial impact on the future of solar energy in Massachusetts.

We will continue to monitor and will report on any material developments.  For further information about this legislation, including its status, please contact any of the attorneys listed in the sidebar.



[1.] Press Release, "Baker-Polito Administration Files Solar Legislation to Raise Net Metering Caps, Continue Industry Growth," Press Office of the Governor of Massachusetts, August 7, 2015.

[2.] Ibid.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McLane Middleton, Professional Association
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions