Massachusetts Regulators Approve New ‘SMART’ Solar, Storage Program

More than a year after it was first announced, this week the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved the state’s newest solar incentive program, Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART), which provides declining incentives for up to 1600 MW of solar.  The incentives are a fixed amount and vary by “block” and also decline over time. The program includes added incentives for systems that include features like energy storage, community solar and other location-based solar installations, such as brownfield developments.

By issuing the order, the DPU gave a green light for the launch of the program, which it says will save ratepayers $4.7 billion over current programs that include net-metering and solar renewable energy credits (SRECS), because the compensation amounts are lower with SMART.

Related: The 1,600-MW Solar Program for Massachusetts Really is SMART

Notably, under the order DPU rejected the distribution companies’ proposal for a cap that would have limited the amount of bill credits that individual customers could receive under community solar projects. DPU also rejected the distribution companies’ proposal to allow costs to be recovered through a fixed charge, instead requiring all ratepayers to contribute to costs through a volumetric charge as requested by many stakeholders and lowering the cost of the program for residential ratepayers. 

Industry Stakeholders Optimistic

“The release of the SMART Order from the DPU, and the program’s implementation, will help get the Massachusetts solar market moving again,” said David Gahl, Director of State Affairs, Northeast for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“Although we are still reviewing the Order details, we are pleased to begin this new chapter.  We look forward to working with the Baker-Polito Administration to help Massachusetts reclaim its place as one of America’s leading solar states.”

“While historically a national leader on solar, the Massachusetts solar industry has slowed over the past two years. The issuance of the SMART Order is the critical step needed for solar to ramp up in the Commonwealth again,” said Janet Gail Besser, NECEC Executive Vice President.

“Today’s decision allows community solar to move forward and expand access to the 75 percent of residents in the Commonwealth who can’t place solar on their roofs,” said Brandon Smithwood, policy director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access.

“Solar projects have been stalled across the Commonwealth for more than a year now awaiting the launch of the SMART program, which will still be weeks from now. These projects will mean local investment, new jobs and property taxes, as well as a cleaner and more resilient energy system,” said Sean Garren, Senior Director, Northeast for Vote Solar. “We are still examining the details of this order, but are happy to see it moving forward and hope the SMART program will be implemented as quickly as possible.”  

“After many delays, this order from the DPU will help solar energy regain momentum across the Commonwealth,” said Mark Sylvia, President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England. “As always, details matter; we are still reviewing the specifics, but are encouraged by this critical step in putting the Massachusetts solar industry back on track through the SMART program.”


Representatives from National Grid will be speaking at DistribuTECH in February 2019 to discuss DERs and other initiatives. More information about the event is here.

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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