On November 4th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued emergency regulations to implement the increase in net metering caps that was included in the thermal energy bill that passed at the end of the legislative session (An Act Relative to Credit for Thermal Energy Generated with Renewable Fuels, Chapter 251 of the Acts of 2014). The action here was in the legislation, which we wrote about in August. The bill raised the public cap from 3% to 5% of peak historic load and the private cap from 3% to 4%; the emergency regulations just incorporate this change. As emergency regulations, the changes take immediate effect while the hearing and comment process plays out. Written comments are due December 12th, and a public hearing will be held on December 16th.
Raising the caps was a kick-the-can solution to hitting the previous caps. The same bill created a “net metering task force,” and it will be more interesting to see what the task force proposes as a long-term approach for net-metering in the Commonwealth. The task force’s report is due at the end of March, and because the task force is made up largely of political officeholders and appointees, the results of today’s election could affect its content. Will Massachusetts be able to find a steady, long-term approach to net metering that can get through the political process before the next cap-crisis? Stay tuned.