40 Municipal Officials Urge State to Revamp Solar Programs, Ensure All Residents Benefit

Changes to solar regulations, pending legislation, could open up opportunity

BOSTON -- Municipal officials from across the state, including Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Chelsea, Holyoke, New Bedford, Worcester and twenty other communities, are urging the Baker administration and legislature to address inequities in solar access through revamped energy regulations and pending state legislation.

In a letter released Wednesday, officials urged the Governor, Speaker and Senate President to secure a “realistic and viable pathway for low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities to participate” and address disparities in access that correspond with class, race and language isolation.

"Holyoke has prioritized the transition to clean energy, and we will continue to push for an equitable and green economy," said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. "Our state policies must ensure every resident across the Commonwealth can benefit from clean power like solar."

"Chelsea is working to secure energy affordability and resiliency for all residents," said Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. "Expanding access to solar is a key strategy in ensuring all members of our community can benefit from innovations in clean energy."

“We can’t afford to leave anyone out in the effort to fight climate change,” said Boston Councilor Michelle Wu. “Greater access to solar will help Massachusetts residents combat pollution and achieve the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

“Facing high housing costs, renters in communities like Cambridge need clean power like solar to reduce their bills,” said Cambridge Councilor Quinton Zondervan. “Massachusetts must take action to expand access to renewable energy.”

"Residents of the Pioneer Valley are deeply committed to taking action around the climate emergency," said Northampton Councilor Alisa Klein. "State policy should encourage and ensure that communities across the Commonwealth are taking action to promote clean energy for all."

The state’s solar program, “SMART,” is currently under review. Officials are asking the Baker administration and Department of Energy Resources to take several steps via changes to the SMART program, including:

  • Reserving a portion of solar programs through a low-/moderate- income (LMI) carve-out
  • Ensuring LMI residents receive fair compensation for power they send to the grid
  • Balancing land conservation with a clear pathway for the siting of larger community shared solar projects

The municipal officials are also supporting several pieces of state legislation relative to solar access:

  • H.2877/S.1931, An Act relative to solar power in environmental justice and urban communities (Rep. Holmes / Sen. Chang-Díaz)
  • H.2843, An Act removing barriers to solar for low-income communities (Rep. Dykema)
  • S.1956, An Act ensuring access to solar energy for all communities (Sen. Eldridge)

“Assets and income should not prohibit communities of color from participating in the savings seen by many higher-income residents as they transition from fossil fuel delivery systems to solar panels,” said State Representative Russell Holmes (D-Boston).

“It’s critical that we transition to renewable energy both quickly and justly. Having borne a disproportionate burden of the pollution, low-income residents and communities of color must not be left behind as we form the new green economy. And if we want to succeed at hitting aggressive renewable energy goals as a state, we need to marshal the participation of all Bay Staters--not just the wealthy few. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston).

 

Vick Mohanka
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Joel Wool
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