House to address solar cap before break

DeLeo to push for omnibus energy bill next year

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO indicated Friday that the House would address the issue of the solar net metering cap separately from more comprehensive energy legislation that is likely to also speak to wind, hydro and other sources of renewable power.

DeLeo, speaking to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning, said he still wants to produce an omnibus energy bill “as opposed to breaking it up into various sectors,” but acknowledged that there is a time sensitivity to tackling the solar cap, which has been reached in much of eastern Massachusetts causing some projects, according to advocates, to be stalled.

“I’m well aware obviously that the energy legislation is probably going to be taking a little bit longer than I had expected and looks like it’s probably going to extend into next year,” DeLeo said, according to an audio clip of his remarks to the chamber. “Because of that, I have asked the chairman of the committee on energy to make sure we take out of that bill so we can address it in a much shorter time issues relative to solar energy so we can take care of that more immediately this year and not next.”

An aide to DeLeo said the speaker hopes to pass a solar bill through the House before the break from formal sessions on Nov. 18. The Senate has already passed legislation to lift the cap on solar net metering, which allows businesses and public entities to sell power produced through solar panels back to the grid at retail rates. Gov. Charlie Baker has said he wants the cap to be lifted to allow people to take advantage of federal tax credits for solar set to expire at the end of 2016.

[DeLeo’s remarks followed close on the heels of a letter to lawmakers from six leading business leaders, who argued that raising the so-called net metering cap was unnecessary. Solar industry officials said the letter contained several inaccuracies.]