In the final hours of its legislative session, the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation to create a thermal energy REC program in the Commonwealth, lift the caps on the Commonwealth’s existing net metering regime and appoint a 17-member “Net Metering Task Force” to study the “future of net metering.”
Net Metering Caps
Rather than enacting an anticipated comprehensive overhaul of solar regulations and incentives in the Commonwealth (which would have completely lifted net metering caps and blended the state’s net metering compensation method with its solar SREC program), the legislature instead has simply lifted the Commonwealth’s net metering caps and left the net metering law and regulations as well as the SREC II program intact.
– The so called “public cap” will now be increased from 3% of peak historic load to 5% of peak historic load.
– The “private cap” will increase from 3% to 4%.
The bill also includes a requirement for the DPU and the Bay State Hydropower Association to study the feasibility of net-metering power from small hydropower facilities.
The Bill amends the existing statutory authority for the alternative renewable energy portfolio standard currently administered by the Department of Energy Resources to extend eligibility in that program to “renewable thermal” energy production resources. Such resources will include those using sunlight, biomass, biogas, liquid biofuels, geothermal ground and air source heat-pumps.
1 alternative energy credit will be created per 3,412,000 BTUs created from these resources. MA DOER will also have the discretion to increase rate at which “new on-site renewable thermal energy generating sources” will create alternative energy credits for certain technologies.
Net Metering Task Force
The 17-member Net Metering Task force will include the DOER commissioner, the attorney general as ratepayer advocate, MMA, NECEC, AIM, legislators, distribution company representatives and 6 individuals appointed by the Governor and representing a broad range of renewable technology businesses. It is scheduled to convene before October 1, 2014 and report on the costs and benefits of net metering and make its recommendations for “reforms” before March 1, 2015.