|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.
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.
Mayor Setti D. Warren
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
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