The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced plans on March 23 to extend the Bay State’s successful Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC 2) program until it completes a long-term replacement for the initiative.
Since its inception, the SREC 2 program has led Massachusetts to more than 1,600 MW of solar development and supported thousands of local jobs, investments, and a healthier environment for Bay State families and businesses, the DOER said.
The policy objectives of the program are to:
- Provide economic support and market conditions to maintain and expand PV installations in Massachusetts;
- Control ratepayer cost;
- Maintain robust, progressive growth across installation sectors and manage growth to reach 1600 MW by 2020;
- Sustain a competitive market of diverse PV developers, without undue burdens of entry;
- Address financing barriers limiting residential and non‐profit direct ownership, without compromising the third‐party ownership model; and
- Minimize regulatory complexity and maintain flexibilities to respond to changing conditions.
The current program was introduced by Governor Charlie Baker (R). Under a draft program under consideration since October 2016, the 1,600-MW cap would remain in place, but the new program would replace SRECs with tariffs that DOER said were “designed to reduce risk and provide for more predictable revenue streams for solar developers.”
Solar associations, businesses, non-profits, and clean energy advocates praised the move to address the gap between the SREC 2 program and its successor, DOER said.
Advocates also highlighted the need for state lawmakers to raise the Commonwealth’s net metering caps this session. As of this writing, there are waiting lists for net metering cap allocations in two utility service territories. Below are statements from advocates following the announcement:
“The solar industry applauds Massachusetts Governor Baker and the Department of Energy Resources, led by Commissioner Judith Judson, for their efforts to extend the Solar Renewable Energy Credit 2 program,” said Sean Gallagher, VP of State Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “With this extension now on the books, we are asking the Baker Administration and lawmakers to support an increase to the Commonwealth’s net metering caps. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation raising the caps this year.”
“Solar is delivering economic and environmental benefits to Massachusetts, with tens of thousands of solar jobs, millions of dollars in energy savings and significant reductions in our air and water pollution,” said Nathan Phelps, program manager of Distributed Generation Regulatory Policy at Vote Solar. “The Commonwealth is on the path to a bright solar future, and we applaud the Baker Administration for seeking to avoid a bump in the trail with this extension. Whether solar remains on that path will depend on the administration and legislature lifting limits on net metering and creating a viable new incentive program.”
“Over the years, Massachusetts has done a marvelous job encouraging an emerging solar industry, creating thousands of jobs, and helping to put clean energy resources into the hands of mainstream people and local businesses,” said Bill Stillinger, president of the Solar Energy Association of New England (SEBANE). “The SREC extension announced today avoids a major market disruption and continues our state’s progress toward a clean energy future.”