This fall, I had the opportunity to participate in the public comment review for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) new Solar REC program. Overall, the Commonwealth has done a great job trying to keep solar development growing. Programs like Commonwealth Solar provided large rebates to commercial and residential solar projects. In fact, Commonwealth Solar was so successful that funding was in short supply late last year.
So the dilemma that the Commonwealth faced was how to keep solar installations growing and demand strong without it costing real dollars to the Commonwealth and ultimately the taxpayers.
Dwayne Breger and his team at DOER invested countless hours this past fall and early winter reviewing programs previously implemented in other states and developing a unique program that should help maintain growth over the next decade.
The details of the program are available at RPS Solar Carve-Out.
Briefly, the new program does the following:
- It establishes a specific Renewable Portfolio Standard that generators must fulfill with solar energy. In 2010 the Solar RPS is 25MW.
- It tries, through various economic mechanisms, to establish a relatively constant price for S-RECs. By trying to stabilize REC prices, DOER hopes to provide banks and other lending organizations with a reasonably certain, and therefore, a financeable revenue stream that project developers can use to obtain financing.
- Municipal Light Districts are eligible for the program. This is a big change because it allows towns like Norwood, Wellesley, Concord, and others …. that were not eligible for RET program because they were not members of the trust …. to generate and sell Solar RECs which will in turn help finance projects in those towns.
All in all, kudos to DOER, for grabbing the bull by the horns and getting what looks an exciting program quickly into the marketplace.