Massachusetts' leadership on solar development, which extends to Berkshire County, will continue to be jeopardized if Beacon Hill doesn't get around to lifting the net-metering cap.
Net metering credits solar systems for the electricity they add to the grid, and it is an essential tool in increasing solar usage. It is not favored by fossil fuel interests and with the thriving solar industry up against the cap, projects in the Berkshires and elsewhere are stalled and could miss out on critical federal tax breaks if they are not on line by January 1 of next year.
A conference committee has been working on dueling House and Senate solar energy proposals now for nine weeks. This week, the MassSolar is Working Coalition warned that if the compromise leans toward the bill from the House, where leadership is less friendly to solar, reductions in compensation could make solar development unprofitable.
Also this week, the Senate Republican Caucus expressed frustration with the tie-up of solar legislation in the conference committee. In calling for an expansion of the net-metering cap, the Republicans expressed concern for the future of the state's solar power sector, which includes more than 12,000 jobs, adding that delays in the legislation will fuel "a significant degree of uncertainty that affects consumers, communities, and the ability of Massachusetts to continue its leadership on this front."
Not only must the net-metering cap be raised, the legislation coming out of the conference committee should not contain any poison pills that will slow solar growth in other ways. Green energy is the wave of the present as well as the future, and special interests should not stall its continued growth in the Berkshires and around the state.