In March, public projects within National Grid service areas reached the 256.6 MW (megawatt) net metering cap for 2015. Massachusetts net metering caps are based off each utility’s historical peak MW energy demand, with a small percentage cap allocated toward private (4%) and public (5%) solar projects, falling short from the State’s 1600 MW goal. NGrid serves almost half of the total net metering capacity in areas where it is cheaper and simpler for developers to locate eligible sites for solar. And while regions serviced by Eversource are less likely to be developed (high cost and poor terrain), Unitil and NGrid-Nantucket are close to reaching their caps (5.1MW and 2.3MW).
New solar projects can no longer earn retail credit for the excess power returned to the grid once the state utilities reach the solar caps, credited instead with only a third of the retail rate for any excess power. Consequently, community-based and large solar projects would not be financially feasible with the reduced incentive, with residential systems 10 kW or less and many commercial systems 25 kW exempt from the cap. Unless the state approves legislation to increase the cap (at least to 1600 MW target), expect solar projects to hang dry on the growing waiting list (24.8MW public and 36.7MW private as of 4/22) and solar development to stagnate. The future of the state’s solar industry depends heavily on whether the legislature will approve bills for raising the cap.
EarlyBird Power Team