NOTE: In April 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) issued final changes to its RPS Class I and RPS Solar Carve-Out programs. These changes resulted in the establishment of the RPS Solar Carve-Out II Program and marked the close of the application period for the RPS Solar Carve-Out Program. Any new solar projects may seek qualification under the RPS Solar Carve-Out II Program.
Massachusetts' renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires each regulated electricity supplier/provider serving retail customers in the state* to include in the electricity it sells 15% qualifying renewables by December 31, 2020. The RPS was significantly expanded by legislation enacted in July 2008 (S.B. 2768), which established two separate renewable standards -- a standard for “Class I” renewables, and a standard for “Class II” renewables. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) regulates the RPS and developed corresponding rules. In January 2011, final rules were implemented for the state's Solar Carve-Out program, which is the portion of the required renewable energy under the Class I Standard that must come from qualified, in-state, interconnected solar facilities.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) represent the renewable attributes of solar generation, bundled in minimum denominations of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of production. Massachusetts' Solar Carve-Out provides a means for SRECs to be created and verified, and allows electric suppliers to buy these certificates in order to meet their solar RPS requirements. All electric suppliers must use SRECs to demonstrate compliance with the RPS. The price of SRECs is determined primarily by market availability, although the DOER has created a certain amount of market stability by establishing a state Solar Credit Clearinghouse Auction (where prices are fixed at $300/MWh minus a 5% administrative fee, for a total of $285/MWh), as well as the Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) for the state RPS (set at $496/MWh for 2015). The Solar Credit Clearinghouse should only be utilized if or when SREC generators cannot sell their SRECs on the open market. To date, the Solar Credit Clearinghouse has only been utilized in 2013 and 2014.
Only solar-electric facilities built after January 1, 2008 may qualify to generate SRECs. SRECs are generated on or after January 1, 2010, since that is the date the Solar Carve-Out program took effect. Generators must apply and receive a statement of qualification (SQ) from the DOER and must establish an account with NEPOOL-GIS in order to participate in this program. Facilities that received funding prior to the effective date of the Solar Carve-Out from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust or the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, or received more than 67% of project funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are ineligible.
The SACP is set at $496/MWh (2015). The SACP was amended in 2013 and now includes a schedule. The schedule is (in $/MWh):
The Solar Carve-Out program was originally intended to support approximately 400 MW of solar facilities in Massachusetts. The program was expanded in June 2013 with the issuance of an emergency regulation that extended eligibility to projects beyond the 400 MW cap that had met certain development milestones. Approximately 659 MW ended up qualifying under the Solar Carve-Out. Once the opt-in term for all solar facilities has expired, SRECs will no longer be generated. Solar facilities will at that time generate renewable energy credits (RECs) and will be able to sell those for compliance under the Class I standard.
* This does not include municipal light districts.
|Incentive Type:||Solar Renewable Energy Credit Program|
|Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:||
|Incentive Amount:||Varies, depending on market supply and demand|
|Maximum Incentive:||2015 compliance year: Alternative Compliance Payment Rate is $496/MWh (~$0.496 per kWh)|
|Eligible System Size:||6 MW (DC) or less|
|Name:||M.G.L. ch. 25A, § 11F|
|Date Enacted:||1997 (subsequently amended)|
|Name:||225 CMR 14.00 (Final)|
|Name:||Massachusetts Solar Carve-Out Information|
|Organization:||Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources|
100 Cambridge St., Suite 1020
Boston MA 02114
This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.
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