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Governor Baker signs comprehensive solar legislation into law

4/15/2016, 6 a.m.

Monday Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito were joined by a bipartisan group of legislators to sign solar legislation into law to continue the expansion of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and establish a long-term framework for sustainable solar development in our state. The bill, An Act Relative to Solar Energy, passed both legislative chambers with overwhelming support and achieves the Baker-Polito Administration’s goal of reducing costs to ratepayers while strengthening the state’s clean energy economy and progressing towards the greenhouse gas reduction requirements set forth under the Global Warming Solutions Act.

“This legislation builds upon the continued success of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and ensures a viable, sustainable and affordable solar market at a lower cost to ratepayers,” Baker said. “As our administration continues its balanced approach to diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio, solar development will be an integral component of our state’s clean energy future.”

Consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s energy agenda, the legislation provides immediate relief to the solar industry by raising the public and private net metering caps from 5 percent of utilities’ peak load to 8 percent and from 4 percent of utilities’ peak load to 7 percent, respectively. Additionally, the bill allows the Department of Energy Resources and the Department of Public Utilities to gradually transition the solar industry to a more self-sustaining model. This approach includes robust stakeholder outreach, and will establish the next generation solar incentive program at a reduced cost.

“This legislation is an important step forward in the Commonwealth’s clean energy future,” said Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), Chair House Committee on Ways and Means and lead House conferee of the Solar Conference Committee. “It represents a balanced approach that will not only allow solar energy to remain a key piece of the state’s energy portfolio, but it will also reduce costs borne by ratepayers by 40 percent. The compromises reached in this bill recognize the important role that the development of solar energy plays in contributing to the clean energy goals of the commonwealth as well as fostering green jobs and community development while ensuring that incentives are more closely aligned with costs to achieve affordability and sustainability.”

“Solar is a key piece of our strategy to combat climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said State Senator Benjamin Downing (D - Pittsfield). “I appreciate the Governor’s quick action in signing this into law to ensure continued solar development.”