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Downing secures solar net metering cap increase; Creates long-term framework for solar growth
July 23, 2015

BOSTON – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces that his amendment to increase the state’s solar net metering cap and promote future solar development throughout Massachusetts was adopted by his colleagues during today’s Senate session.  The amendment was adopted during debate on S. 1973, An Act providing for the establishment of a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response to climate change.

"Massachusetts is a national leader in clean energy issues and tackling climate change,” said Downing. “Continuing net metering is about building on that leadership. I'm glad my colleagues supported my amendment and look forward to working with our friends in the House of Representatives and the Baker Administration to see this language signed into law.”

Downing, who has served as the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy for three terms, identified action on  solar policy as an early priority this session.  Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to receive a credit for the unused electricity they feed back to the grid.

Downing’s amendment aligns the net metering cap with the state’s 1600MW goal of installed solar capacity and further directs the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to create a new solar incentive program when the 1600 MW goal is reached.

Solar growth stalled in National Grid’s service territory after their public and private caps were met in March. This amendment sets up a long-term framework for solar development, while allowing for continued development prior to the expiration of the Federal Solar Tax credit on December 31, 2016.

Notably, Downing’s amendment seeks to ensure the future growth of virtual metering and community shared solar, which allows equitable access to solar development for residents who may not otherwise be able participate.  The amendment also grandfathers existing projects, ensuring that today’s solar installations will not be negatively impacted by future changes developed by DOER post 1600 MW.

S. 1973 was engrossed by the Senate today, and will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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