Massachusetts regulators double SMART program capacity


Just before the end of 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued an order expanding the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program from 1,600 to 3,200 MW of solar capacity, opening up availability for new projects, and allowing projects that have been languishing without incentives to move forward.

The order will take effect on January 14, 2022 when the Commonwealth’s utilities file their compliance documents.

The expansion will provide immediate relief to the roughly 175 MW of commercial and utility-scale solar projects that have been waiting to receive their incentives since the last round of funding ended, about 18 months ago.

“These solar projects are a key part of the Commonwealth’s plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions,” said David Gahl, senior director of state policy, East at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Despite this positive outcome, serious questions remain about the DPU’s ability to issue timely orders. In this instance, we waited for a ruling on the ‘non-controversial’ or ‘fast track’ portion of the case for more than a year, putting half a billion dollars of private investment on hold at a time when the Massachusetts economy needs more support.”

It has been over 18 months since the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER) finalized regulations to expand the program, and solar advocates worried that any further delays in implementation would hamper the state from reaching its decarbonization goals by mid-century.

The new regulations include updated guidelines on energy storage usage and compensation, a technical financial “true up” on DC coupled solar-plus-energy storage, and a provision that developers are worried could remove 90% of Massachusetts land from solar development opportunities, a concern that pv magazine USA dug into in October.

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