Energy agency coming to Amherst to talk about solar goals

  • State Sen. Jo Comerford, left, and state Rep. Natalie Blais. Comerford and Blais, along with state Rep. Mindy Domb, will host the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) on Sept. 5 to hear the state agency’s review of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • State Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/28/2019 10:46:09 AM

State Sen. Jo Comerford says in this time of climate crisis, legislators want to ensure the state is doing everything it can to promote the development of renewable energy resources.

So, Comerford, D-Northampton, state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, and state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, will host the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in Amherst on Thursday, Sept. 5, to present their review of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program and accept public comment on new regulations.

The event will be held in the Amherst Room of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Center, 1 Campus Center Way, from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is welcome.

The SMART Program is the newest program established to support the development of solar in Massachusetts. The regulations that established the SMART program required an Energy Resources Department review tafter 400 megawatts of solar capacity had been accepted into the program. That review has been completed.

The agency will now hold a stakeholder meeting to present its findings and hear from the public.

“I am thankful that DOER clearly heard the concerns we echoed from our constituents over the last few months,” Blais said. “The department’s commitment to holding the very first presentations on the SMART program review here in western Massachusetts underscores what we can accomplish as a region when we work together.”

Comerford said she has heard concerns from towns, constituents and solar companies about how the SMART program needs to be adjusted — that the incentives available for solar development in western Massachusetts were all accounted for very shortly after the program opened — and new incentive blocks need to be made available.

“The incentives offered through the program should also be adjusted so that they do more to incentivize solar being installed in the built environment,” Comerford said. “My constituents are deeply engaged on the issue of climate change and want to install solar panels on their homes, collaborate on community solar installations and look at powering municipal buildings through solar energy, so I’m pleased that we’re able to bring DOER to western Massachusetts to discuss how the state can be a good partner in this work.”

The Energy Resources Department will collect written feedback on the 400-megawatt review as well. Comments should be submitted electronically by Friday, Sept. 20, with the subject line “400 MW Review Public Comments” to DOER.SMART@mass.gov.

 




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