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Update on Massachusetts SMART Program: Where Are We Now?

It has been over two years since Governor Baker enacted the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program, and nearly one year since the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER) released its final set of proposed regulations for the program. In our latest SMART update, we take a look at where the program currently stands and what energy providers can expect next (read our previous updates here and here).

To recap, the SMART program is a new long-term, sustainable solar incentive program meant to promote cost-effective solar development. It will replace the SREC II program, which concludes in summer 2018. Through SMART, the Commonwealth will procure up to 1,600 megawatts (MW) of new solar photovoltaic generation and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) over as many as eight (8) consecutive “capacity blocks” of approximately 200 MW each. Qualified solar projects enrolled in the program will receive tariff-based payments for 10 or 20 years depending on project size, subject to compensation rate adders and subtractors that reflect project characteristics including project location, whether the project has battery storage capability, or will serve low-income customers.

The most recent round of updated guidelines were issued by DOER on January 22, 2018, and cover: agricultural solar tariffsbrownfieldsland use and sitinglow income generation units, and the qualification reservation period. Completion of the SMART Program RFP and issuance of the DOER’s guidelines are important milestones in the development of the program, and provide essential information for stakeholders, including solar project developers interested in obtaining the long-term, tariff-based payments that the SMART Program will provide. The EDCs’ proposed SMART Program tariff is now under review by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in Docket No. 17-140. DOER is likely to begin accepting applications for SMART Program certification and participation in the remainder of Capacity Block 1 and subsequent capacity blocks this summer. Click here for common logistical questions about participating in SMART.

DOER has also created a Value of Energy and Incentive Calculator for Behind-the-Meter facilities. This tool calculates the Value of Energy and fixed incentive compensation rate for behind-the-meter systems. The calculation accounts for project type, size, distribution company service territory, customer rate class, and capacity block. It does not necessarily reflect the final tariff value a system will be qualified for, but is meant to be a tool to understand and estimate the value that a particular customer may receive under different scenarios.

Solar providers interested in participating in SMART should work with counsel to ensure they are taking optimal advantage of the incentive program, and abiding by new guidelines as they are issued. We will continue providing updates on the Energy & Sustainability Matters Blog as SMART moves into the next phase of implementation.

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Thomas R. Burton, III

Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Tom Burton has helped to shape the clean energy industry by drawing on his passion for innovation. As a Mintz attorney, Tom counsels investors, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 100 companies. He also guides start-up organizations and accelerators to foster the next generation of energy leaders.