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The Debate Over Capping Solar Energy Incentives In Mass.18:24
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The NRG shared solar project in Freetown, Mass. was the first NRG shared solar, or "community solar," facility in the state. (Aynsley Floyd/AP for NRG)
The NRG shared solar project in Freetown, Mass. was the first NRG shared solar, or "community solar," facility in the state. (Aynsley Floyd/AP for NRG)

The solar power industry is booming across the country and here in Massachusetts.

A big incentive for customers to install solar power systems is the opportunity to sell extra power that they produce back into the commercial grid. This is called net metering, but currently there's a limit on how much power customers can sell back.

With the region's growing interest in solar, half the state has already met its net metering cap, so Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation to raise the cap. But electric companies, like Eversource and National Grid, say the cap would actually increase energy prices for customers who don't use solar.

Guests

Janet Besser, vice president of Policy & Government Affairs with the New England Clean Energy Council, which tweets @NECEC.

Amy Rabinowitz, senior vice president and deputy general counsel at National Grid, which tweets @NationalGridUS.

Jürgen Weiss, principal at The Brattle Group, which tweets @TheBrattleGroup.

More

Massachusetts Net Metering and Solar Task Force: Final Report To The Legislature, April 30, 2015

  • "In light of these projections, the Administration does not support raising the net metering capsin the short term absent a long term sustainable solution. Rather, we believe it is extremelyimportant that any adjustments to the caps be accompanied by meaningful changes to the mixof incentives and proper consideration of the role of the ratepayers. As Secretary Beaton hasarticulated, the Commonwealth has a vital opportunity to develop a sustainable long termframework that effectively balances promoting clean energy and lowering costs to ratepayers.The Baker-Polito Administration looks forward to leading a dialogue to develop a program thatstrikes the right balance."

The New Yorker: Power To The People

  • "Most of the technology isn’t particularly exotic—these days, you can buy a solar panel or an air-source heat pump at Lowe’s. But few people do, because the up-front costs are high and the options can be intimidating. If the makeover was coördinated by someone you trust, however, and financed through your electric bill, the change would be much more palatable."

The Boston Globe: Nonsolar Users Bear Burden Of Net Metering

  • "For large solar projects, these reimbursements far exceed the value they bring to the electric system. As a result, Massachusetts pays more per kilowatt-hour of solar energy than anywhere else in the nation, and about twice as much as neighboring New England states."

The Boston Globe: Are Solar Panels Worth It?

  • "In fact, a recent study by North Carolina State University ranked Boston second among the nation’s largest 50 cities in terms of the potential savings available to residents who install solar. (No. 1? New York City.)"

Commonwealth Magazine: Baker Minimizes Impact Of Net Metering Cap

  • "In March, the net metering cap was hit for the 171 cities and towns served by National Grid. A part of Baker’s bill, filed in the House, would raise the caps on net metering by 2 percent for both public and private entities... In the meantime, Baker said, municipal leaders should not let developers shy away from solar projects out of fear they won’t be profitable. He said there are still benefits with the cap, just smaller ones."

Vox: Solar Power Is Still Growing Rapidly — But It's About To Hit A Speed Bump

  • "Unless Congress decides to extend this tax credit — and many Republicans aren't too thrilled with that idea — it's set to lapse on January 1, 2017. At that point, it will drop to 10 percent for utilities and commercial installers, and disappear entirely for residential solar."
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