Since 2011 when the Municipal Light Advisory Board (MLAB) first announced a plan to reduce the rate Belmont Light buys back energy from solar hosts, the state of solar in Belmont has been in confusion. Until 2011 Belmont Light, like the rest of Massachusetts, had a policy of retail net-metering. In 2011 they announced a plan to first reduce payments to avoided cost on excess generation (Phase 2) and then to reduce payments even further to avoided cost on all generation (Phase 3). Phase 3 would have made Belmont Light’s tariff one of the poorest paying tariffs in the country, paying on the average about 40% as much as retail net-metering, the current standard in Massachusetts. Although the new tariffs were never put into the effect, the very existence of these plans put a chill on solar installations in Belmont.
Things have changed. In the summer of 2015 the Selectmen appointed a Net-metering Working Group to examine the issue of solar tariffs and make recommendations on a tariff that “will not discourage the growth of solar power in Belmont and that is equitable for Belmont Light ratepayers.” The result of their deliberations is discussed in detail here.
Simply put, Belmont’s new tariff, while not paying as well as net-metering, still allows solar to be a good investment for many Belmont residents. The Working Group specifically recommended that the Selectmen sponsor a Solar Challenge to allow a group-buy from a designated installer allowing for a discounted price and a better return for Belmont residents. The Selectmen followed the Working Group’s advice and asked the Energy Committee to sponsor the Solar Challenge. The result is Belmont Goes Solar, a working group of residents spearheaded by the Energy Committee, who are working with a designated installer, Direct Energy, to make going solar a very attractive proposition for many Belmont residents. The rest of this site has much more information. Individuals interested in going solar can email admin@BelmontGoesSolar.org to stay up to date about all current developments.