2016 Solar Net Metering Legislation

Comment from Will Brownsberger

The chart Andrew has prepared below summarizes the status of incentives for different kinds of solar projects under the legislation that we approved yesterday.

It is not an attractive package from the perspective of the solar industry. Small residential projects continue to receive the full retail net metering credit (in private utility service areas), but the successor to the SREC program (in both public and private utility areas) is left up to the regulators. For those projects that don’t make it into the current incentive program (almost capped), the additional incentive is uncertain. Large industrial projects get a reduced net metering rate (60% of retail) and face the same uncertainty as to additional incentives.

Most environmental and solar industry groups nonetheless urged passage of the package and I did vote for it — there was no real alternative. It doesn’t take anything away — so, voting for it improves the situation, just not as much as people hoped. Rejecting it would only put more pressure on the solar industry as net metering and the SREC programs both expire. We will continue to have the conversation about how to improve supports for renewable energy at the state level.

H.4173 – Solar Net Metering Conference Committee Report Summary

Project types: Net Metering Cap Rate
Small Residential/ Commercial & Industrial projects, which are defined as 10kw or less single phase and 25kw or less on a 3 phase No cap Rate: Full retail


Government or Municipally owned solar projects The aggregate net metering capacity of net metering facilities of a municipality or other governmental entity shall not exceed 8 per cent of the distribution company’s peak load. (3% increase) Rate: Full retail


Private projects larger than “Small Residential/ C&I” The aggregate net metering capacity of facilities that are not net metering facilities of a municipality or other governmental entity shall not exceed 7 per cent of the distribution company’s peak load. (3% increase) Rate: “Market Net Metering Rate” – 60% of full retail.   Projects qualified under prior net metering credits will continue to receive those credits for 25 years from the date of interconnection. After 25 years, the project shall receive the “market net metering rate”


Minimum bill: This legislation would allow distribution companies to submit a proposal to DOER to institute a minimum monthly bill for solar net metering projects. DOER is required to hold a full adjudicatory hearing, least one public hearing and solicit public comment prior to approval. The department may consider exempting or offering a modified a minimum bill for low income ratepayers and projects in service before December 31, 2016.

Existing Incentive Programs: Solar and solar thermal projects that qualified under prior incentive programs (SREC-I and SCREC- II) will continue to be subject to and receive the benefits of those programs.

New Solar Incentive Program: This bill tasks DOER with creating a new solar incentive program to promote the continued growth of solar while also reducing the cost for ratepayers of the Commonwealth. The program shall promote the growth of community share, government or municipal owned and low-income solar projects.

Andrew Bettinelli
Legislative Aide
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

4 replies on “2016 Solar Net Metering Legislation”

  1. There’s an MIT study referenced in a Boston Globe op/ed which showed the cost of residential solar is 70-80% higher than for commercial/industrial solar.

    What I read here, however, is that larger incentives are given to smaller projects.

    Does that make sense, because it doesn’t to me.

    Also, did the Legislature look at the cost of this package to ratepayers? It’s not reported anywhere, and I am beginning to suspect this is purposefully so:
    – Big utilities are not interested to publicize the cost of their infrastructure passed on to ratepayers
    – The solar industry is not interested to publicize the cost/benefit of their enterprise

    I would very much like us to solve our emissions problems, and address climate issues and pollution, but I won’t hold my breath about this solar bill.

  2. Although there is no cap for the small residential projects, the full retail rate is disappointing. Many low income communities share on non-municipal projects to make solar affordable, yet they are not protected by this legislation. “Small residential” should be separated from the “commercial & industrial projects” and given the market net metering rate!

    I appreciate your attention to this, Will, and for the admission that it is not “great.”

  3. A note about “solar” being more expensive, bear in mind that the parties involved are putting up and risking their capital and are not asking for rate payers to underwrite and guarantee their investment like utilities. Utilities make their money by costs of capital being paid for by rate payers.

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