Scrap the Caps
As we approach the last few days before Massachusetts’s legislators adjourn for the year, many groups are headed to the Statehouse looking to effect change. Our team at CivicSolar, along with a large gathering of solar advocates gathered at the statehouse steps to rally Massachusetts’s legislators to address the pressing issue of raising the net metering cap.
The crowd included advocates from environmental non-profits, solar companies, and concerned citizens. A few organizers gave speeches to the gathering, highlighting some of the main problems of the current net-metering cap. Matt Lash, the Director of Business Development at IBEW local 103, said in his speech, “Now is not the time to let the sun set on solar.” Lash is expressing the feelings of electrical contractors statewide who are poised to lose significant business if the caps are not raised. Lash continued, “When there is impotence on the hill, working families suffer”.
One of our core values at CivicSolar is to facilitate the growth of the solar industry, and help further clean, renewable energy in our economy. For those of you who don’t know about the net-metering cap issue, here is a quick recap that will help you understand what our team at CivicSolar is fighting for:
Massachusetts in one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to solar energy installations, job creation and environmental benefits, but that solar success is at risk due to an unnecessary cap on one of our most important solar programs: net metering. Net metering makes sure families, schools and businesses get fair, full credit on their energy bills for valuable solar electricity they deliver to the grid for use nearby. In place in 44 states, this simple crediting mechanism is one of the most important state policies for empowering consumer solar adoption.
Existing law places a cap on net metering participation, after which utilities are no longer required to offer this important customer right to new non-residential solar energy customers. Unfortunately, the net metering cap for public, private, and community shared projects in National Grid’s service territory was hit in March, slamming the brakes on hundreds of solar projects in 171 cities and towns. Local jobs, taxpayer savings, reduced electric bills and public health benefits are being lost every day.
Reasons to Raise the Caps:
Consumer Savings and Control
Massachusetts in burdened with some of the highest electricity rates in the country, and now affordable solar is giving our consumers a way to lower their bills and take control of their energy like never before. These solar savings mean that schools, public agencies and non—profits can spend precious dollars on critical services rather than high energy bills
Net metering benefits solar and non-solar customers alike. It spurs private investment in local solar power, which reduces the need for expensive and polluting fossil fuel power plants and electricity grid infrastructure. The legislature-ordered Net Metering and Solar Task Force reported that these savings provide a net benefit of $9B to the commonwealth. The same task force report concluded that a scenario that removes the caps on net metering would be the most cost-effective way to develop solar in the state
Jobs & Economic Benefits
Solar keeps energy dollars invested in our communities. The growing solar industry employs over 12,000 people in Massachusetts, and has brought over $2b of investment to the local economy in the last few years.
Health & Environment
Local solar power reduces our dependence on the fossil energy that has polluted our communities for decades and set our world on a dangerous path of climate change. We all benefit from having clean air to breathe- air that doesn’t sicken and take the lives of children, seniors, and our most vulnerable.
People Want Solar
Polling consistently shows that solar is citizens’, voters’, and ratepayers’ top choice among power generation options. Recent polling in MA shows that, by margins of at least 3:1, voters support solar and support raising the net metering caps.
Without net metering cap relief by Thanksgiving, Massachusetts stands to lose:
- Nearly $200,000,000 in federal funding for solar, through the investment tax credits;
- Hundreds of jobs in the solar sector
- Millions of dollars in electricity savings for municipalities, businesses, schools and hospitals seeking economic savings on electricity bills- money that would otherwise go to public services
- Its national leadership position in solar, responsible for more than 400 companies that employ more than 12,000 people.