Stalwarts and leaders of solar energy industry gathered on Tuesday to call for the lifting of the caps on solar production, which has been a major reason for impeding projects on the development of the solar power industry in the Bay State. This cap has been deterring some major companies to invest their money in solar energy projects and has also put many of the current projects on hold in 171 cities and towns within National Grid’s service area.
“It’s not like a future problem, it’s a right now problem,” said Director of Policy and New Markets, Hannah Masterjohn at the Clean Energy Collective.
A new policy introduced as Net Metering allows electricity customers to offset their bills by receiving the retail rate for the energy produced in excess by solar panels. Residential projects under 25 kilowatts can benefit from this new policy, even though large scale government-owned and private projects are controlled and limited by caps.
The solar production cap is becoming a serious problem for customers who are limited in the steps they can take to reduce their energy costs. Currently, the Baker Administration is looking to find long-term solutions rather than quick solutions to solve this problem. The administration opposes short-term lifts of the net metering caps without a clear long-term focus on promoting clean energy and lowering costs for ratepayers.
Katie Rever, director of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, has been trying to convince lawmakers to consider both the lifting of the net metering cap and implementing a long-term fix to resolve the problem.
Department of Public Utilities also opposes the lift of the net metering caps arguing that it would result in higher bills for the customers without solar panels. For the last few years, Department of Public Utilities have floated the idea of charging a minimum bill from all customers regardless of whether they produce their own electricity or not. It was expected to be charged as a payment to cover the expense of maintaining electricity service and other infrastructure.
“There’s only one wallet in the room, and that’s the customer,” said O’Connor who co-chaired the 17 member task force with Burgess.
Head of PowerOptions, an energy-buying consortium, affirmed that renewable energy and energy efficiency have seen growth recently, yet it has not benefitted the customers who are still paying high prices for gas and electricity.