Massachusetts finalizes successful SREC 2 program extension

It’s about time.

After months of wrangling, several drafts and delayed deadlines, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has officially finalized the extension of its Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC-2) incentive program until a fully developed new program is in place. As pv magazine reported last month, the SREC 2 extension is considered an emergency regulation, instituted immediately to keep the momentum state’s burgeoning solar industry moving forward apace.

Solar development in the Northeast has expanded significantly in recent years, originally led by New Jersey. While the Garden State remains solidly ensconced in the No. 5 spot in the Solar Energy Industries’ Association (SEIA) Top 10 Solar States list, Massachusetts’ solar star has risen rapidly, moving into the No. 7 position, fueled at least in part by the SREC-2 program since 2014. The process of extending the program started in September when the original draft of the program was released.

After an extensive public-comment period, a revised draft was released in February, leading to today’s announcement. Solar advocates were overjoyed at the decision to close a seven to 12-month gap that would have been created if the program when the program ended. The DOER credits the program with giving rise to  1.6 GW of commercial-solar installations in the state. It had previously expressed fears that ending the program would bring commercial solar development in the state to a screeching halt.

“Over the years, Massachusetts has done a marvelous job encouraging an emerging solar industry, creating thousands of jobs, and helping to put clean energy resources into the hands of mainstream people and local businesses,” said Bill Stillinger, president of the Solar Energy Association of New England (SEBANE). “The SREC 2 extension announced today avoids a major market disruption and continues our state’s progress toward a clean energy future.”

While the announcement thrilled solar advocates in the state, they were quick to remind the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker that the work on keeping the state’s solar industry viable is not done.

“The solar industry applauds Massachusetts Governor Baker and the Department of Energy Resources for their efforts to extend the Solar Renewable Energy Credit 2 program,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at SEIA. “With this extension now on the books, we are asking the Baker Administration and lawmakers to support an increase to the Commonwealth’s net-metering caps. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation raising the caps this year.”

“Solar is delivering economic and environmental benefits to Massachusetts, with tens of thousands of solar jobs, millions of dollars in energy savings and significant reductions in our air and water pollution,” said Nathan Phelps, program manager of distributed-generation regulatory policy at Vote Solar. “The Commonwealth is on the path to a bright solar future, and we applaud the Baker Administration for seeking to avoid a bump in the trail with this extension. Whether solar remains on that path will depend on the Administration and Legislature lifting limits on net metering and creating a viable new incentive program.”