Is there any way to make BMLD more solar-friendly?

Dear Will,

I am looking into solar panels for my Belmont house, and have been dismayed to discover how solar-unfriendly BMLD is. In addition to opting out of the Mass rebate program (which is worth up to $4000 when buying panels), the buyback tariff seems designed to discourage solar. If I’m reading the tarriff document correctly (and it ain’t an easy document to read, and I’m a lawyer), not only is the buyback based on wholesale rather than retail prices, but after you generate 66% of your estimated annual usage, you have to pay BMLD for all the electricity you use, including electricity YOUR OWN SOLAR PANELS GENERATE.  Is there anything that can be done about this? Concord has a muni light dept that is much more solar-friendly.

2 replies on “Is there any way to make BMLD more solar-friendly?”

  1. There has been a huge conversation about this issue.

    The lead players in the conversation, in addition to BMLD, are Sustainable Belmont, the Municipal Light Advisory Board, the town’s Energy Committee.

    It’s not a conversation that I can participate in as Senator though — I have solar panels on my house and therefore have a personal economic interest in the way BMLD handles solar. I’ve sought ethical advice and have been advised that I should not play a role in the debate.

    That advice doesn’t prohibit me from playing a role in general legislative activity related to solar issues, even issues related to residential solar panels. But BMLD’s policies, being local, as opposed to legislative, are deemed to be a “particular matter” which I can’t be involved in.

    1. One way that the legislature could get involved with promoting Solar, and Wind would be to fix our land laws so that a solar installation could be financed through the real estate title process. By making a solar installation part of the home, financed by a mortgage, it would make it easier to finance an installation and transfer the financing if the home is sold for some reason. It could even have the effect of allowing the utilities to install these systems and be sure that their financial security interest in the installation is titled and secured, thus encouraging the installation of these systems. Such a title system in Palm Springs CA has allowed the electric coop there fund the installation of solar.

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