Wednesday at 11:00 AM, Maura Healy, the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certified MA 15-26 INITIATIVE PETITION that it is in proper form for submission to the people.  The Certification plus a fair and concise SUMMARY of 15-26 INITIATIVE PETITION drafted by the Attorney Generals Office and the INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A LAW RELATIVE TO SOLAR AND RENEWABLE ENERGY are linked to here.

Now the real work begins.  To be taken seriously by the legislature we need 100,000 signatures to net out 65,000 certified signatures by the registrar of each municipality by the third week in November.  The Solar Bill of Rights Committee has filed with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance to be in compliance of political committee related filings.

The objective of this petition legislation is to get the legislature to adopt the concepts on their own for the benefit of the Commonwealth.  We will have three traunces of opportunity to use this referendum to affect legislation – September – November of 2015, after the 65,000 certified signatures in January -February of 2106, after the subsequent 10,000 signatures if the legislature does not act in late spring of 2016.

By the acts and deeds of the Baker Administration to date, the Solar Bill of Rights Committee has no confidence that the Baker Administration will do anything meaningful regarding solar and the environment during the 4-8 years the administration may be in office.  The legislature or the voters at the ballot box must take meaningful action.

How did 15-26 Initiative Petition come to be?

In June of 2015, it appeared that the Baker Administration and the House of Representatives were not going to do anything substantial regarding solar by August.  Mary O’Donnell got Haskell Werlin and myself together and we spoke about a referendum.  Representative Tom Calter has said “the legislature hates referendums, therefore you have to do it.”  Mary and I met at the AG’s office and spoke about timing, structure and regulatory compliance.  Mary was the energy that got the process going, but my responsibility was to get the petition written.  Running my business and writing legislation are two full time jobs so it took me a while to get going.  Our deadline for the AG’s office for a referendum in November of  2016 was the first Wednesday in August.  So on the weekend of July 22, I wrote the “concept language” and distributed the language to Mary O’Donnell, Michael Frechettte, Haskell Werlin, Emily Rochon and Mark Lebel. Active discussions ensued and to be frank, Mark was very frustrated with me that I was not following his format.  But we got the revised concepts to Courtney Feeley Karp, who on a pro bono basis, shaped the reality of getting the concept into legislative language suitable to be adopted by the legislature.  Mark commented that the language was pretty good.  With the deadline approaching and the recommendation that we speak with the AG’s office well in advance of the final submittal, we did not have the time to gather support from many large groups so I focused on input from a small but diverse group.

The Solar Bill of Rights Committee: I am Co-Chair and Treasurer,  Haskell Werlin is Co-Chair.  Mary and Michael are board members, Chris Kilfolye, Claire Chang and John Ward are helping out and Emily Rochon will advise as she is able.   I am reaching to to environmental groups to join with us in this effort.  Michael did yeoman’s work getting the initial 10-certified signatures to the AG’s office in time.  By copy of this email I am reaching out to all of you for your interest in participating in leadership roles, regional signature drives, legislative support and other organizational positions that may be required. Some day we may ask for money.

This petition will be transformative as it builds on the Green Communities Act and regulations in place.  The petition will:

  1. Remove all caps on net metering
  2. Establishes a development rate to generate 20% of Massachusetts load by 2025, 50% of that total will be devoted to Community Solar.
  3. Raises the RPS to 2.5% per year
  4. Establishes incentives for storage technologies to compliment solar and other renewable technologies and to provide for a plan of strategic grid security for the Commonwealth
  5. Establishes a firm fixed 6% rate of taxation for payment in lieu of taxes agreements with municipalities.
  6. Allows full net metering for all systems up to 1 MW and all community solar projects.
  7. Establishes a new definition of “Solar net metering credit”, basic service+distribution+transmission+transition= solar payments
  8. Increases the size criteria of net metering facilities to be large enough economically to be meaningful as a contributor to community solar and the grid.
  9. Establishes a proceeding to remove the barriers for the installation of distributed generation resources

While we are hopeful the legislature may act in September – November with something substantive, I think we are going to be thankful we will have 15-26 Initiative Petition certified by 100,00 signatures just in case.  Now we just need to execute.

Will you support the Solar Bill of Rights Committee?

Best Regards,

Doug Pope

Co-Chair – Solar Bill of Rights Committee
42, 8th Street, #4413
Boston, MA 02129

About John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.