On August 11, 2022, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act driving climate policy forward. After months of heavy legislative activity involving a wide range of stakeholders in the clean energy and technology industries, the Massachusetts legislature combined what was a bill that we reported on earlier focused on expanding offshore wind energy and transmission development with another that covered a wide range of climate policies. The resulting omnibus bill involves clean energy workforce and economic development, offshore wind procurement, potential large scale procurement of energy storage, regional coordination of clean energy development, changes to the treatment of other clean energy resources, further adoption of electric vehicles, energy efficiency and building electrification, the transition away from the use of natural gas, and modernization of the electric distribution system to enable increased adoption of renewable energy, energy storage, and vehicle and building electrification. The Governor had returned the bill with amendments, leaving the Legislature only the last weekend of July to consider further amendments by the end of the regular session.
Offshore Wind and Economic Development
This year’s bill expands offshore wind procurement under Section 83C to 5,600 MW from the 4,000 MW amount last set by St. 2021, Ch. 8, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. Notably, it removes the price cap, which required subsequent procurements to be priced lower than the previous procurement.
Other Clean Energy
Currently, renewable energy generating resources on agricultural or horticultural land may only generate for the use of the land and farm upon which it is located, which may include contiguous or non-contiguous land owned or leased by the owner. This bill provides that land may be used to site a renewable energy generating source that qualifies for a DOER solar incentive program for agricultural or horticultural sectors and remain classified as used for agricultural or horticultural use for tax purposes if the renewable energy generating source does not impede that use of the land.
The bill modifies a hole in the exemption from net metering caps. In order to be exempt from net metering caps, the nameplate capacity of a Class I net metering facility previously had to be 10 kW or less on a single-phase circuit, or 25 kW or less on a three-phase circuit. The amendment exempts all Class I net metering facilities with a nameplate capacity equal to or less than 25 kW.
Over the years, various exemptions to net metering regulations have been litigated before the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). This amendment removes limitations to permit any number of solar net metering facilities on the same parcel to receive net metering credits where (i) the net metering facilities are on a government-owned parcel up to an aggregate limit of 10 MW; (ii) the net metering facilities are on a parcel where all buildings are low or moderate income housing; (iii) each net metering facility is on a separate rooftop up to an aggregate limit of 2 MW on the single parcel; (iv) each net metering facility is on the same rooftop, each connected to a customer behind the meter, up to an aggregate of 10 MW; or (v) additional net metering facilities are installed not less than a year before the previous installed facility up to an aggregate of 2 MW.