By Derek Newberry, Advocacy Fellow
The Massachusetts Department of Energy recently extended its SREC II program until January 2018 and released plans for a new solar incentive program called the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Energy Target (SMART) program to supersede it. As Ben Vila, a member of our advocacy team, described in his “Switching from SRECs to a $/kWh tariff system [through SMART] is expected to cut costs to the state and ratepayers by almost half while providing greater predictability for developers, investors, and facility owners.” The new SMART tariff framework will incentivize at least 3,200 MW of additional solar development over the next few years (hopefully expanding net zero energy buildings!) and promote solar development on specific categories including low income, community shared solar, projects that integrate building mounted solar, as well as solar installations on brownfields, landfills, and commercial and industrial zones.
While incentives will be lower, especially on larger projects, the SMART program will offer 10-20 year fixed price compensation on a tier system that declines with increased capacity. This will allow total program costs to be assessed with certainty and reduces financial risks. The DOER also decreased 25kW SREC project compensation from 80% to 70% of current SREC II values. Nonetheless, the extension of the the SREC program will bridge the incentive programs and ensure continued investment in solar over the coming months and into 2018. The SMART program still needs approval from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) which may happen later this year. For more details check out Ben Vilas' blog and the DOER's SMART Final Program Design. Also, check out another blog on the SMART program here.