In The News


 31 Mayors and Town Managers join Mayor Warren in Objection to Legislative Proposal on Net Metering

City of Newton, Massachusetts

Office of the Mayor


March 14, 2016


32 Mayors and Town Managers Urge State Legislators to Protect Financial Incentives for Municipal Solar Development Projects

Proposed legislation is potentially devastating to city and town solar projects


Newton - Mayor Setti D. Warren today sent a letter to key state legislators, urging them to reject legislative proposals to reduce the value of net metering credits associated with municipal solar projects.  Such reductions, he said, “could halt the development of projects now underway, and drastically curtail future solar development in the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.”


The letter was co-signed by 32 Mayors and Town Managers from municipalities throughout Massachusetts (see attached letter).  It was directed to six members of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, that is considering the proposals, with copies going to the Speaker of the House, the Senate President and the Governor. 


Net metering enables those that host solar panels to sell excess power back to the energy grid, usually for credit on their electricity bills.  Under current law, electric companies pay for net metering at the retail rate - the same rate they charge customers for electricity. The proposals would reduce the price of net metering credits by as much as 75%, permitting utilities to purchase the power at the wholesale rate- the cost of production - thus making solar power development financially challenging for municipal hosts and solar developers.


Newton plans to lease 11 municipal sites to a developer to build three megawatts of solar power by the end of 2016. The project is expected to generate $4M in savings for Newton residents over its twenty-year term.  “The proposed rate reductions would wipe out most, if not all, of those savings,” said Warren. 


 Newton also plans to develop a community solar share program, in 2017, that would enable low-income residents, and those with rooftops that will not accommodate solar power, to share solar power with the City.  “Although all ratepayers pay fees on their utility bills to support solar power, only about twenty percent of them are in a position to obtain it,” said Warren.  “That is simply unfair,” he said.


“If net metering credits are set at the wholesale rate, projects like these simply won’t make financial sense for Newton or for any other city or town in Massachusetts.  This legislation will make it very hard for any Mayor or Town Manager to propose solar projects in the future.”  


Massachusetts has brought online 985 megawatts of solar since 2009, enough to power 150,000 homes. Current solar policies are estimated to have created over 15,000 jobs in Massachusetts and resulted in $791 million in investment in 2014. The state has made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent  by 2050.


“Massachusetts has been a national leader in the transformation to clean energy, and our cities and towns have been at the forefront of that movement,” said Warren. “These proposals threaten to halt that progress. They will also eliminate local jobs, reduce local investment and make it much more difficult for cities and towns, and the state, to reach their greenhouse gas reduction goals.”


“We thank Mayor Warren and city and town leaders around the Commonwealth for standing up for solar development in our state,” said George Bachrach, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM). “The legislature must now do its part and move forward with solar legislation that lifts the cap on net metering and preserves fair compensation to continue solar development in our cities and towns.”


The proposals to reduce the value of net metering credits is opposed by the Massachusetts Municipal Association,  the Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts, the  Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and other environmental advocates.



The Letter 


Honorable Benjamin Downing

Honorable Bradley H. Jones

Honorable Brian S. Dempsey

Honorable Bruce Tarr

Honorable Marc Pacheco

Honorable Thomas A. Golden


March 14, 2016


Dear Conference Committee Members,


The increase in solar development over the past decade has been a great benefit to the Commonwealth's citiesa nd towns. For example, with reasonable and fair reimbursement rates from the utilities, Newton has been able to develop half a mega watt of solar power on school rooftops and reduce its overall energy costs as a result. Relying on those rates, we are far along towards an additional three megawatts of solar energy -- enough to power 450 homes-­ scheduled to come online by the end of 2016.


In addition to reducing air pollution and lowering our carbon footprint,Newton's new solar projects are predicted to generate about $4 million in cost savings for residents over the next  two decades. If subject to the significant rate reduction that  has been  proposed,  however, we would lose most, if not all, of those savings. Many cities and towns would suffer similar losses on their  projects.

If the changes proposed by H.3854 and S.2501 go into effect, some solar projects in our communities will not be completed and others will never get started. This will slow local economic development and cost jobs statewide. When Nevada passed similar rate changes, solar development slowed and solar developers left the state, taking an estimated 1200 clean energy jobs along with them.

The proposed  rate change also creates a pernicious double standard,valuing the power that utilities sell to customers at retail, while providing a much lower rate of compensation for locally generated solar power that goes back to the grid.  That is unfair to taxpayers,  ratepayers, municipalities and the environment, and will make it very hard for any mayor to propose new solar   developments.

That gets to the heart of the matter. These bills will significantly impede the future development of solar power in Massachusetts.

That would  be a big setback, not only for the environment and for the Commonwealth,  but also for our businesses and residents. Newton  has a community solar share program  on the drawing board for 2017 that will enable low-income residents and those with  homes that are not suited for solar power to share in the savings from municipal solar projects. That project, and dozens if not hundreds of municipal solar installations around the state, will be in serious jeopardy  if the bills pass in their current form.

Solar power increases the triple bottom line:  it's a win for the economy, for the environment and for our communities. As mayors, we have seen how it leads to lower energy bills, less air pollution and more local jobs. That's why the Massachusetts Municipal Association opposes these rate changes, as does the Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and other environmental advocates.

Massachusetts has been a national leader on energy- ranked number one in the nation in energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. We are also leading the way on solar power. The Commonwealth's cities and towns have been at the vanguard of this transformation, but the proposed legislation threatens to put us on the sidelines.

We ask the committee to produce a final bill that allows communities to continue to host solar facilities on municipal property and to continue to make forward progress towards a clean energy future. We therefore urge you to preserve the beneficial reimbursement rates currently in place for municipal solar development projects.




Mayor Setti D. Warren

Newton,  MA


List of co-signing Mayors and Town Managers


Mayor Richard Cohen,  Agawam

Mayor Kevin Dumas, Attleboro

Mayor William Carpenter, Brockton

Town Administrator Melvin Kleckner, Brookline 

City Manager Richard Rossi, Cambridge

Mayor Denise Simmons, Cambridge

City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea

Mayor Karen Cadieux, Easthampton

Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Everett

Mayor Jasiel Correia II, Fall River

Mayor Stephen DiNatale, Fitchburg

Mayor Mark Hawke, Gardner

Mayor Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Gloucester

Mayor William Martin, Greenfield

Mayor Edward Kennedy, Lowell

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Lynn

Mayor Gary Christenson, Malden

Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke, Medford

Mayor Robert Dolan, Melrose

Mayor Stephen Zanni, Methuen

Mayor Richard Alcombright, North Adams

Mayor David Narkewicz, Northampton

Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Peabody

Mayor Brian Arrigo, Revere

Mayor Kimberly Driscoll, Salem

Mayor Dominic Sarno, Springfield

Mayor Brian Sullivan, Westfield

Mayor Robert Hedlund, Weymouth

Town Manager James McKenna, Winthrop

Mayor Scott Galvin, Woburn

Mayor Joseph Petty, Worcester


Note: Mayor James Florentini of Haverhill and Mayor Jon Mitchell of NewBedford are writing separately.



Speaker Robert DeLeo



Senate President Stanley Rosenberg



Governor Charlie Baker

Commonwealth of Massachusetts





We,The Most Energy Efficient State


Massachusetts is declared national leader a fifth time by the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy(ACEEE). 
You, the Newton residents make it happen. 


Click hereto see the media coverage video featuring a Newton resident, who is a Mason Rice parent.
Video courtesy of New England Cable News




Members of the MA Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action participate in Legislative Action Day

Newton Tab story
Read the story

Newton adding Solar Power
Newton Tab story by Jonathan Dame
Nov. 23, 2015

Alderman have signed off on a city initiative to install thousands of solar panels
across nearly a dozen municipal properties, in partnership with the private sector.

Read the story

The roof of Newton High School. Courtesy photo

The Secrets in Greenland’s Ice Sheet
By JON GERTNERNOV. 12, 2015, The New York Times Magazine
By studying the largest glaciers on earth, scientists hope to determine whether we’ll have time to respond to climate change or whether it’s already too late.

The Jakobshavn Glacier as seen from a research flight that was part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge.
Credit Olaf Otto Becker for The New York Times
At one point several hundred thousand years ago, snow began falling over the center of the earth’s largest island. The snow did not melt, and in the years that followed, storms brought even more. All around Greenland, the arctic temperatures remained low enough for the snow to last past spring and summer. It piled up, year after year, century after century, millennium after millennium.
Read the story

Successes and failures in saving Newton’s trees

Newton Tab story by Julia Malakie, November 10. 2015, Courtesy photo

The Newton Tree Conservancy will have planted 170 trees in calendar year 2015.

Newton is known as the Garden City in part because of our beautiful tree canopy, but for many years this public asset has been in peril. Our street tree population, about 40,000 in the 1970s, had declined to about 25,300 by early 2011. At that point, Newton had no in-house tree crew, no regular budget for planting, 80 percent of the tree budget went toward removals, and we were losing about 650 street trees per year. Read the story.
Julia Malakie is a member of the Urban Tree Commission and president of the Newton Tree Conservancy.

The ice dam cometh. Are you ready?
By Shirley Leung, Globe Staff November 08, 2015
After the winter we had, our motto became: “Ice dams be damned.”
My husband and I spent the summer with a parade of roofers and insulation contractors trying to figure out how to prevent our home from being ringed by icicles again.
We had icicles everywhere: the front, the side, the back. They stretched from 2 inches to two stories tall. One time I got so annoyed at one that I tried to knock it down with a snow shovel. I nearly got speared. Don’t ever try this at home.
But the icicles weren’t just a nuisance. They were destroying the house. They were the telltale signs of ice dams, which form during periods of heavy snowfall followed by a stretch of freezing temperatures.

The Argument: Should the state lift the cap on ‘net metering’ to boost solar power?
By byline Globe Staff October 30, 2015
Jillian Wilson-Martin
Town of Natick sustainability coordinator
"Natick is a “solar suburb.” Some 250 homeowners have rooftop panels, ..."
John Regan
Holliston resident, executive vice president of government affairs for Associated Industries of Massachusetts
"High electricity bills are choking the Massachusetts economy..."

In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly

Photo Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times; Story by MATT RICHTEL, New York Times, OCT. 10, 2015
Electric vehicles charging in Mountain View, Calif. Scarcity of charging stations has led to fierce competition for available spots.
Read the story

Newton Energy $avers Home Energy Assessment No 397

"My wife Helen and I have lived in our house for 44 years in Newton Corner." 

Read the story Newton Tab story Dec. 25, 2015

Peter Smith outside his Newton Corner home after Home Energy Assessment No. 397

City of Newton Alderman Ruthanne Fuller with her dog, Argus.
Newton Energy $avers Home Energy Assessment No 301

Read the story

Newton Tab story, Dec. 10, 2015

Home Energy Assessment No. 245
Ken and Margaret Mallory, with their golden retriever Siena, in front of their Newton Highlands home after HEA Number 245.
Read the story
Newton Tab story Dec. 3, 2015

Robyn, Maxine, Julian and Nathan Phillips

Newton Energy $avers
Home Energy Assessment Number 207
Newton Tab Story, Nov. 25, 2015

Read the story
Newton Energy $avers conducts 161st assessment
State Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton, has lived in the same home in Oak Hill for 40 years. She says it was a great home in which to bring up her sons, and a wonderful place to host many gatherings for her political career. “It’s a comfortable space…where I can relax, and also entertain. I particularly love that I can sit on the deck, or look out the windows, and enjoy so much green and so many trees.” 
Read the story 
State Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton, in front of her Oak Hill home following her home energy assessment. Courtesy Photo. Newton Tab story.

Newton Energy $avers conducts 104th assessment

Shawn Fitzgibbon, chair of the Newton Democratic Party, outside his Newton Center home after home energy assessment No. 104. 
Newton Tab story posted Nov. 1, 2015, Courtesy Photo
Shawn Fitzgibbons, his wife Kate Wissel, and their two children, Claire and Colin, live in Newton Center. Their house was built in the 1940s and has a stream that runs past though their back yard. They have lived in the house since 2007. Read the story

Another Home Energy Assessment
Massachusetts State Rep. Kay Kahn has lived in Newton Lower Falls for 45 years in an “old house that has been renovated to bring in a lot of natural light. There’s also an old train rail track behind the house with good potential to become a walking path.” The house is also very crowded. Read the story
  Newton Tab story, Nov. 7, 2015
State Representative Kay Kahn with her granddaughter Chace and Dante.

Home Energy Assessment Number 63
Newton Tab story
Sharon Cushing lives in Chestnut Hill in a 100-year-old house with a big picture window that looks out towards Cambridge. Read more ... 

Newton Energy $avers conducts 36th Assessment 

Simon, Lucia and Dorothy Dolan, with dogs Venus and Crusoe, in front of their Newton Center home following Home Energy Assessment 36. 
Newton Tab story
Simon and Lucia Dolan, daughter Dorothy, and dogs Crusoe and Venus live in Newton Center in a single family home that they bought in 2000. They had a home energy assessment 13 years ago, but figured it was time for an update. Simon is a retired technology executive and Lucia is a middle school teacher in Chelsea. Read more ..

Home Energy Assessment Number 25

Photo courtesy Kathleen Hobson and Hattie Gawande; Newton Tab story
Kathleen Hobson and Atul Gawande live in Waban in a single family home, built around 1930. Read the story

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