The Department of Energy Resources on July 10 issued final regulations for the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program, intended to promote cost-effective solar development in the Commonwealth.

The changes (under 225 CMR 20.00) conclude the DOER’s emergency rulemaking process for the SMART program, after the department filed emergency regulations in April and reviewed written and oral public comments.

The regulations double SMART program capacity (adding 1,600 megawatts), enabling more municipalities to develop solar projects with state support. The rules also increase a financial incentive for public entities developing solar, from 2 cents to 4 cents per kilowatt hour.

The changes also allow solar projects sited on private property – either owned or operated by a municipality or where the project’s owner has assigned 100% of the output to the host municipality – to be defined as public entity Solar Tariff Generation Units.

The MMA submitted written comment in response to the emergency regulations on June 1, and supported the changes above.

The DOER did not adopt an MMA suggestion that would have broadened eligibility for what is considered a public entity Solar Tariff Generation Unit. The regulations exclude projects that are sited on publicly owned land that is leased or for which the municipality receives payments in lieu of taxes from another entity, such as capped landfills or wastewater treatment facilities.

Eligible public entity STGUs can apply early for a Preliminary Statement of Qualification.

Some municipalities with pending solar projects on municipally owned land with a lease or PILOT agreement report that they experienced delays in accessing SMART program incentives because they do not qualify to apply early for a Statement of Qualification. The MMA asked the DOER to change its eligibility criteria to allow for these types of municipal projects to apply early.

The final version of the SMART regulations and information about the rulemaking process are available on the DOER website.

The emergency regulations that the DOER filed in April included changes made as part of the department’s review of the program last fall. The MMA submitted comments during the fall review period, initiated once the program reached 400 megawatts of subscription, in response to the draft proposed by the DOER at that time.

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