The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has announced its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program regulations, which will now go through a public comment period. This announcement followed the Governor’s recent commitment to addressing climate change and joining the United States Climate Alliance.
Massachusetts boasts the second largest solar workforce in the country thanks to state initiatives like net metering and the SREC 2 program, and today’s announcement could be a first step in giving residents and businesses confidence in the Bay State’s continued commitment to progress.
Solar advocates applauded the announcement of the new program, but called for improvements in order to continue solar growth and the Commonwealth’s climate and clean energy leadership. Additionally, the State Legislature has proposed bills needed to expand the net metering program, which is currently closed for new projects in the majority of the state, so further steps are needed to continue solar growth. Below are statements from industry advocates following the announcement:
“Community solar projects are currently saving consumers money while providing clean, local power across the Commonwealth,” said Coalition for Community Solar Access Executive Director Jeff Cramer. "While we are pleased that the SMART framework was announced today, we are concerned that the proposed limits on community solar will hamper clean energy access. Every ratepayer in the Commonwealth deserves the opportunity to receive the benefits of solar energy on their electric bill through participation in community solar. We’re ready to work with the Administration to improve the regulations and look forward to celebrating the program's launch next year."
“Thanks to Massachusetts’ leadership and initiatives that make solar more accessible and affordable, Massachusetts has set itself apart as a national leader that’s building its clean, equitable energy economy,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Regional Director at Vote Solar. “The Commonwealth affirmed its commitment to its clean energy future with today’s SMART program announcement, but more work is needed to improve the program and work with the Legislature to expand net metering to ensure that we continue to harness the economic and environmental benefits of solar.”
“We thank Governor Baker and his team for continuing to prioritize the expansion of solar energy,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The SMART program will help support another 1600 megawatts of solar in the Commonwealth and maintain its position as a leading state. However, while an important step, this isn’t the finale. SMART will not be available until sometime next year. For solar’s economic engine to continue running, the Massachusetts State Legislature must raise the state’s net energy metering caps before the year is up to allow continued solar market growth until SMART is fully implemented.”
"While the overall framework of the SMART program is well considered, we’d be much more confident in its long term success if it included a requirement to evaluate program performance early and often with an ability to adjust the program in response to market forces, if the SMART program is not meeting its goals,” said Mark Sandeen, Co-Founder and President of MassSolar.
“We’re happy to see them appear, but the SMART program emergency regulations contain several last-minute surprises”, said Bill Stillinger, President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE). “Solar is the key to a shared clean energy future and its implementation needs to be accelerated, not blocked or limited. Now, the often-conflicting voices of our industry and environmental advocates, elected officials, the state’s regulatory agencies, the utility companies, and solar installers and developers need to be reconciled to secure a good long-term path for solar in Massachusetts.”