Massachusetts SRECs capped for projects over 25kW12. February 2016 | Financial & Legal Affairs, Markets & Trends | By: Christian Roselund
With net metering caps also being hit in utility service areas across the state, the mid-sized to large-scale solar sector is in serious trouble.
On February 5 the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced that the total capacity available under the SREC-II Program for projects over 25kW had been exceeded. DOER reports receiving applications for 854 MW-DC of larger projects, which exceeds the cap for that segment by more than 193 MW-DC.
DOER says that all of the applications which were received on or before February 1 came in under the cap, but that it can make no promises about applications submitted after that date.
The agency also notes that it is not sure that all of the projects which have applied will be eligible.
SREC-II is the solar renewable energy credit (SREC) program created to accommodate expanded solar goals under former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Earlier this year Massachusetts passed a 60% threshold of total SREC capacity, which resulted in 120 MW being set aside for projects smaller than 25 kW.
This is only the latest problem for Massachusetts’ solar industry. Despite multiple legislative attempts to raise or abolish restrictive caps on net metering installations, these caps have been hit in the service area of utility National Grid, and the industry has warned that caps will be hit in the service areas of other utilities as well.
Massachusetts’ net metering caps do not apply to systems 25 kW or smaller that utilize three-phase inverters, or systems under 10 kW which use single-phase inverters. As such, this market segment is free to continue to grow under net metering, and for the time being such installations can still earn SRECs.
However, developers of mid-sized commercial and larger solar projects are in trouble, as these projects can longer earn SRECs and may soon be ineligible for net metering as well.
In 2013 and 2014 Massachusetts was the fourth-largest state market for solar PV, according to data by GTM Research. The state also has the second-largest solar workforce in the nation at 15,000 workers.
Due to a combination of policy and geography Massachusetts’ solar market is dominated by distributed installations, however it is also one of the leading states for community solar.
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