“Earlier today, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) filed its proposed final version of the 225 CMR 20.00 Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program regulation with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. DOER expects this version to be published in the State Register on August 25, 2017 with minimal to no changes.
Following three public hearings and after reviewing over 500 pages of public comment, DOER considered all public testimony and recommended several modifications be made to the regulation filed on June 5, 2017. While some of the major revisions in response to comments are highlighted below, more information can be found in the final UNOFFICIAL version of the regulation that was filed today, which can be found here on DOER’s website.
100 MW Procurement
DOER received comments regarding the initial 100 MW Procurement used to establish the Base Compensation Rates for all participating SMART Solar Tariff Generation Units. All changes made to the design are intended to result in a highly competitive, successful procurement, which will establish market based Base Compensation Rates for the remainder of the program. The following changes were made:
- Each Distribution Company will issue one procurement for all projects sized 1-5 MW;
- The Ceiling Price for all facilities in the procurement will be set at $0.17/kWh;
- The procurement results will establish unique Base Compensation Rates for the first Capacity Block of each individual Distribution Company, instead of establishing a single statewide Base Compensation Rate;
- The Base Compensation Rate for the first Capacity Block will be equal to the mean bid price received in each Distribution Company’s service territory.
Compensation Rate Adder Caps and Rate of Decline
In a further effort to help place boundaries around overall program costs, DOER included an adder cap of 320 MW for each individual Compensation Rate Adder in the regulation filed on June 5, 2017. Many stakeholders commented requesting the elimination of these caps. In response to these comments DOER has made the following changes:
- Adder caps are eliminated;
- Each Compensation Rate Adder will decline by 4% for every tranche of capacity established by the Department and will not decline as Capacity Blocks are filled. The first tranche of capacity for each adder will be equal to 80 MW, with future tranche sizes established by DOER as they are filled.
The rules set forth by DOER around parcel limits and project segmentation were intended to prevent Solar Tariff Generation Units from manipulating program rules for their financial advantage. Having received suggestions on potential modifications to these rules, DOER has adjusted them as follows:
- Added Canopy Solar Tariff Generation Units to allowable exceptions to rules, allowing canopies to be sited on the same parcel as a Building Mounted Solar Tariff Generation Unit;
- Allow Solar Tariff Generation Units to be sited on contiguous parcels if owners can demonstrate to the DOER’s satisfaction that they are unaffiliated parties;
- Allow Solar Tariff Generation Units to span multiple parcels if located behind a single interconnection point, single meter, and sized 5 MW or less;
- Added language exempting projects that can demonstrate that necessary qualification documents were obtained by June 5, 2017 from project segmentation rules;
- Added a process that allows DOER to provide exceptions to the segmentation rules for good cause on a case by case basis.
Land Use and Performance Standards
DOER has taken steps to ensure that land use is taken into consideration when siting projects through the differentiation of incentive levels based on project location. In response to the comments received regarding these rules, DOER made the following changes:
- Certain special provisions for Agricultural Solar Tariff Generation Units have been removed from the regulation and detailed in a separate Guideline;
- Added definition and special provisions for Floating Solar Tariff Generation Units, with an associated $0.03/kWh Compensation Rate Adder;
- Added language exempting projects that can demonstrate that necessary qualification documents were obtained by June 5, 2017 from being subject to Greenfield Subtractors;
- Classified all land that has been previously developed as Category 1 Land Use, regardless of zoning;
- Clarified many aspects of the performance standards requirements.
DOER also made the following other changes in response to comments worth noting:
- Modified definitions of Community Shared Solar Tariff Generation Unit, Low Income Community Shared Solar Tariff Generation Unit, and Low Income Property Solar Tariff Generation Unit to clarify that facilities will qualify as such if taking advantage of the alternative on-bill credit;
- Established a 35% per Capacity Block limit on the amount of facilities sized less than or equal to 25 kW;
- Added language prohibiting capacity expansions, with specific exceptions;
- Provided further clarity regarding customer disclosure forms and added requirements regarding form to special provisions for Community Shared Solar Tariff Generation Units ad Low Income Community Shared Solar Tariff Generation Units;
- Modified timing of initial competitive procurement;
- Modified formula for calculating the incentive payments for Behind-the-Meter Solar Tariff Generation Units to be the sum of the three-year average of Basic Service charges, as well as the currentDistribution, Transmission, and Transition charges;
- Other technical changes and clarifying edits.
To see the final UNOFFICIAL version of 225 CMR 20.00, please review the document posted to the Department’s website. On August 25, 2017, DOER anticipates the State Register will publish the final OFFICIAL version of the regulation, and DOER will make a further announcement at that time to confirm.”