What’s next for solar incentives in Massachusetts?

This April, I provided an overview of why the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program needs to be updated. In short, the program is stalled and not working for the most vulnerable citizens in the Commonwealth. Now, after many months of delay, there is finally movement to update the solar incentive program. Last week, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) released a procedural schedule for docket D.P.U. 20-145, a docket that includes a review, update, and expansion of SMART.

What does this mean?

The procedural schedule serves as a timeline for the docket proceedings. In short, this means that there is progress — albeit much slower progress than I hoped. Expert witnesses are scheduled to begin delivering written and oral testimony this August.

What happens next?

Because the expansion of the SMART program is uncontested, the DPU should allow it to move forward this fall. The expansion will allow projects that have been on hold — sometimes for years — to move forward, benefiting thousands of Bay Staters.

However, the docket also contains contested issues — complicated program updates that will take longer to decide. For these issues, stakeholders will provide testimony and the DPU will deliberate on the best path forward. Decisions on the docket’s contested issues are expected in 2022.

What is our goal?

Simply put, the SMART program is not currently working for many of our under-resourced neighbors. To date, only a small percentage of the SMART program has been developed to serve low-income families, even though low-income customers have the most to gain from the benefits of solar.

The Vote Solar team is working with solar advocates to push for the strongest, most equitable SMART program possible. I’ll be testifying on behalf of the coalition this fall about what an equitable program and just implementation could look like. Stay tuned for updates from me and the team as we continue working toward renewable energy access for all Bay Staters.

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