Seven suburbs blast Eversource solar proposal
Communities say rate change could cost them $1.6m annually
SEVEN WESTERN SUBURBS of Boston are crying foul about an Eversource proposal that would cut the amount of money they receive for selling solar energy to the power grid, resulting in a $1.6 million loss of revenue annually.
The proposal, contained in a massive $96 million rate request filed by Eversource in January, would cut the so-called net metering rate from 22 cents a kilowatt hour to 13 cents a kilowatt hour, a 41 percent decrease. The details were included in a letter sent by the seven communities to the state Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday.
The letter said Lexington stands to lose $372,000 in annual revenue under the proposal. Newton would lose nearly $365,000, Natick $300,000, and Weston nearly $284,000. Wayland, Westwood, and Arlington would lose lesser amounts.
The letter was signed by town officials in each of the communities, including Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is running as a Democrat for governor.
Berwick, a chair of the Department of Public Utilities under former governor Deval Patrick, acknowledged that electricity rates are not set in stone and are subject to change. But she said a rate reduction of such great magnitude would have a devastating impact on the solar power purchase agreements the municipalities have entered into with developers building solar facilities on city land.
The letter sent to the DPU by the municipalities said the rate change could undermine existing power purchase agreements that rely on the net metered rates. “Many of these solar projects will become uneconomic from the perspective of the municipalities,” the letter said.The municipal officials urged the DPU to reject Eversource’s proposal because the “instability in policy” it would foster would make communities less likely to enter into similar long-term energy deals in the future.
“If there is an area in which the Commonwealth should not be projecting that kind of instability, it is with regard to the development of renewable resources,” the letter said. “The Global Warming Solutions Act evidences a commitment to meet certain greenhouse gas emission requirements, which cannot be met without clear and consistent policies to facilitate the development of solar electricity and other forms of renewable resources.”