Solar Business Leaders and Employees to Call on Massachusetts Legislature to Pass Solar Bill
Business leaders and employees from Massachusetts’ 15,000-person strong solar industry met with lawmakers today, encouraging action on solar legislation to lift net metering caps that have stalled new solar projects for more than a year. The day of action included the delivery of 5,170 petitions and letters to Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo signed by consumers and a letter from 37 solar companies calling for action on solar.
This lobby day is building upon the momentum of the past two weeks, when 32 mayors and town managers and more than 100 state legislators joined the thousands of solar supporters who have emailed, called, and visited their legislative leaders. This past week, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh penned his own letter to state Sen. Mark Pacheco, highlighting the City of Boston’s efforts to benefit from solar energy.
Reports of renewed negotiations between members of the House and Senate have elicited support from solar advocates and project stakeholders. The list of stalled and cancelled projects throughout the Commonwealth, already thousands of projects long, continues to grow as the Legislature has failed to pass a bill that would raise net metering caps and reform the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) program.
“Demand for solar in the Commonwealth has never been higher, but the ability of ratepayers to access its benefits has never been more restricted,” said Zaid Ashai, chairman and CEO of Nexamp, a commercial and community solar company with offices in Boston and Haverhill. “If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that lawmakers have come to recognize the enormous potential of solar for their constituencies, and its importance as a driver of the Massachusetts economy. We’re optimistic about the building momentum, and join our legislative leaders calling for a sensible resolution.”
Massachusetts has become a leader in solar energy, but with projects stalled in National Grid territory for over a year, and the caps now nearly hit in Eversource territory as well, the prospects of continued growth are in serious jeopardy. A conference committee designated to work out a compromise between competing House and Senate versions of a net metering cap increase has held discussions largely behind the scenes.
“A recent report from Vote Solar recognized Massachusetts as a national leader in expanding access to solar energy, especially to low-income communities” said Paul Spencer, CEO and founder of the Clean Energy Collective. “We’ve made great strides in enabling a broader diversity of customers to affordably participate in local solar energy projects. Unfortunately, no new community solar projects have been able to proceed in National Grid territory since the net metering caps were hit last spring, leaving the majority of customers with no option to go solar.”
Coalition partners Mass Solar, NECEC, SEBANE, SEIA and Vote Solar organized the day’s events. Following the press briefing, nearly 100 solar industry executives and employees walked from the Omni Parker House up to the State House where they met with lawmakers and hand delivered petitions to the House Speaker.