Solar Policy to be debated at the 2015 Belmont Town Meeting

Town Meeting representatives will vote on a non-binding article supporting net metering for distributed solar hosts at the 2015 Town Meeting.

Article 9 is not-binding resolution that asks our state representative and state senator to support legislation that would require municipal utilities like Belmont’s to implement the same net-metering tariff currently applicable to residents in areas served by the investor-owned utilities and to adopt policies that do not impose financial or technical impediments to customers who seek to generate their own electricity from solar power.

The policy is similar to the one passed in Hingham with 70% approval.  Hingham is another town with a municipal utility that imposed a solar tariff that reimburses solar hosts at a much reduced rate compared to residents in the rest of Massachusetts and also requires solar hosts to pay a substantial fee for solar production used by the hosts themselves and never sold back to the utility.

The issue of net-metering and other policies that affect distributed generation are being discussed by many states including Massachusetts.   In fact the the Massachusetts legislature ordered the formation of a committee called the Net-Metering Task Force to make recommendations regarding future solar tariffs and incentives that will be acted upon later this summer in upcoming legislation. The Task Force issued their report at the end of April, 2015.  A large majority of members did not agree that it is evident that net metering necessarily imposes unfair cross-subsidies.  They recommended that solar hosts should receive fair compensation for the value that solar provides to the grid and to the Commonwealth overall and that fair value should be determined through a comprehensive solar benefit/cost study.