Tell Your Legislator Community Solar Must be Saved

Tell legislators: DON’T VOTE FOR A BILL THAT WOULD KILL SOLAR POWER in Massachusetts! Constituent support will make an important difference. See below for info on what you can do.

A well attended meeting was held on Thursday January 14 to discuss the threat to community solar projects from pending state legislation.

The amount of solar power that utilities will accept from municipal and community solar projects is limited by a statutory cap. Newton has a series of solar generating projects almost ready for development, but the room under the existing cap may be used up before the projects are ready to begin.

The issues involved in the legislation are complex. Not only is the amount of power generated subject to a cap, but the House-Senate conference is also considering provisions to reduce the rate that utilities must pay for solar power, which would discourage, or even halt, solar projects in Massachusetts. In addition, many of the 15,000 jobs in the Massachusetts solar industry would be lost if anti-solar provisions become law, as happened in Nevada recently.

Among the people who attended were Senator Cynthia Creem, Representatives Ruth Balzer and Kay Khan, City Councilors Deborah Crossley and Emily Norton, and Newton Sustainability Director Andy Savitz.

Larry Aller of Next Step Living explained the situation and why the provisions under consideration could make solar projects (including Newton’s) financially infeasible at a time when they are desperately needed to meet the state’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change.

The utilities argue for these restrictions in terms of equity for rate payers, but they ignore the financial benefits they receive from solar, not to mention the environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions.

Counselor Norton urged people to call and write to let our Newton’s legislators you want them to advocate for solar. We need to demonstrate constituent support. Newton residents should also ask friends and family who live in other legislative districts to bring the message to their own legislators: DON’T VOTE FOR A BILL THAT WOULD KILL SOLAR POWER.

Hopefully, the legislation that emerges in the end will be good for solar generation, but that is by no means certain. The message to state legislators should include:

  • Eliminate the caps on net metering.
  • Continue to reimburse net metering at the retail rate.
  • Do not institute any kind of minimum bill or monthly charge.
  • Continue effective incentives for solar power.

More information is available at http://www.solarisworking.org/