Massachusetts Governor Unveils New Solar Incentive Program
UtilityDIVE reports Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has released a draft solar incentive program supporting the addition of 1.6 GW of solar power to the state.
If enacted, this program will replace the state’s expiring solar incentive program, which uses solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and is known as SREC-2, with a tariff program. The current SREC-2 program targets the deployment 1,600 MW of solar power and has already seen 1,250 MW of solar power enter service with another 350 MW or slightly more under development, according to state officials.
Massachusetts ranks as the fourth largest solar power market in the US. Its rapid growth in recent years that has forced the state to raise its net metering caps multiple times, writes author Peter Maloney .
The current SREC-2 program aims to spur deployment 1,600 MW of solar power and has already seen 1,250 MW of solar power enter service with another 350 MW or slightly more under development, according to state officials. The proposed tariffs would be set by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).
Under a new draft program unveiled by the DOER, the 1,600-MW cap would remain in place, but the new program would replace SRECs with tariffs designed to reduce risk and provide for more predictable revenue streams for solar developers.
The tariffs would apply to all electric distribution companies and would step down in 5% increments, with larger projects getting lower tariffs, and would be structured on up to eight 200-MW blocks.
The DOER makes these points favoring the incentive modification:
- SREC programs have successfully increased solar deployment in Massachusetts
- Market risk and uncertainty has resulted in higher incentives than necessary
- Programs can be improved to better control ratepayer costs, while continuing to expand solar deployment
- SREC II program has made improvements over original SREC program, but more can be done
Under the draft proposal, Massachusetts would keep its net metering program for existing systems and the tariffs would work in concert with net-metered rates. Under that plan, the tariff payout be the “net energy value,” defined as the total tariff rate minus a “value of energy” measurement, yet to be developed. Generators in that scheme can be net metered, ISO-NE market participants, or qualifying facilities under PURPA.
The draft program also include a variety of tariff adders, which include added incentives for location, such as on a landfill site, for off-takers, such as a community aggregation program, and for other technologies, such as behind-the-meter storage.
Comments on the draft proposal will be accepted until Oct. 21, and model tariffs would be filed in the winter with regulatory approvals occurring in the spring of 2017 and implementation targeted for the summer.
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