An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity in the Commonwealth and Raising the Net-Metering Caps
ACTION: Progressive Massachusetts urges our membership to call or email their state representative and ask them to support an increase in the Massachusetts net-metering program.
The Policy: Net-metering is one of the most effective ways to generate more local, renewable energy in Massachusetts (see alsothe video from Vote Solar and this FAQ on MA’s current policy). Net-metering allows consumers (residential, commercial or municipal) of electricity to generate renewable electricity on site and sell it back to utility companies. Since the net-metering program was first enacted, as part of the GREEN communities act in 2008, solar installations in the commonwealth have increased 24-fold. Currently, only 3% of all of Massachusetts’s electricity is permitted to be net-metered (1% of all private electricity and 2% of all public). We are encouraging the House to approve the provisions in S.2214, to raise the cap to 3% for public and 3% of private electricity and exempt the smallest (less than 10kw) systems.
History: The net-metering provisions in S.2214 would increase the Massachusetts net-metering program from it’s current level (1% for private 2% for public) to 3% for each with an exemption for the smallest renewable energy energy systems (those under 10kW).
Status: This policy was passed unanimously through the MA Senate in April as part of a broader energy bill (click here for more comprehensive summary). The bill is now in the House Ways and Means Committee awaiting action. Governor Patrick has been clear he wants to raise the net-metering cap, and doubling the cap on net-metering is the biggest opportunity this legislative session for the state house to make a positive impact on the environment and the clean energy economy in Massachusetts.
What’s at stake? If we do not raise the net-metering cap, it is a real risk that renewable energy companies, large and small, will have to look out of state to expand their businesses. In Massachusetts, we still get over 90% of our electricity from dirty and dangerous sources of power like coal and nuclear.
Massachusetts currently suffers an undue health and environmental burden due to our coal fired power plants; mercury is a potent neurotoxin most dangerous to nursing mothers and infants, and smog- and soot-forming emissions and other toxins released by these facilities exact a significant toll on public health. The most conservative Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates indicate that scores of premature deaths and myriad illnesses, including heart and respiratory disease may be linked to coal-fired plants. Nationally, emissions from coal-fired power plants were expected to cause over 13,000 premature deaths, nearly 10,000 hospitalizations, and more than 20,000 heart attacks last year. According to research from the Clean Air Task Force, there were more than 200 deaths related to coal plants in the Commonwealth in 2010. Massachusetts is home to four coal-fired plants (Salem Harbor, Mount Tom, Somerset Station, and Brayton Point), and the Commonwealth ranks 20th in mortality linked to coal plants.
Raising the cap on net metering is the most progressive environment and energy policy currently in play in the Massachusetts legislature. Let’s make sure it passes.