MA DOER Releases 100MW RFP, Starting SMART, But Results Could Be Changed

  • MA DOER has released the initial block procurement with a 100MW RFP ahead of the resolution of the 201 petition case which could increase the cost of solar modules significantly
  • The MA distribution companies, that make up the SMART program, have selected CLEAResult as the administrator and the initial bidder conference will occur on November 17th, 2017
  • DOER has issued the final regulations and submitted them to the DPU to enact the tariff rules. DOER has requested the tariff to be created by June 1st, 2018 but the process is ongoing
  • The regulations from DOER and the RFP are meant to be final, however if the 201 case severely impacts the results of the program, DOER reserves the ability to make changes
  • Developers are looking at their own situation for bidding strategy. Some bidders are considering submitting projects meant for SREC II as NEM cap increases seem unlikely and other bidders have modules reserved without 201 impact

On the 14th of November, DOER released the RFP for the initial block of the much anticipated SMART program. The timing of the release was cause of many questions considering the shadows of the 201 petition which could affect the price of solar in Massachusetts. SolarWakeup covered many of these questions with Mike Judge, Director of Renewable Energy at DOER, during last month’s SolarWakeup Live! in Boston.

The initial 100MW RFP is managed by the newly selected administrator, CLEAResult, and will set the clearing price for the initial set of solar projects. All blocks after the RFP will be benchmarked against this RFP making the pricing important for the entire program.

As the 201 case is not fully resolved, bidders will have to predict its outcome or ignore it completely. Some developers commented to SolarWakeup that modules have already been procured which are not impacted by the outcome of the trade case. In the scenario that the case increases the cost of solar panels, future blocks of the program could result in underpriced tariffs for the solar generation as capital costs of installation increase.

Mike Judge commented about this scenario to SolarWakeup, “We [DOER] do have the ability to make changes to the program if necessary. So if something really drastic happened, it’s our reg, we can open that reg,” Mike continued, “we don’t open regulations without careful consideration but we can take appropriate action if necessary.”

DOER is hopeful that bidders understand the various outcomes of the 201 case and looks at changes to the regulations as an option of last resort. This doesn’t minimize the impact to the RFP results. Bidders with SREC II projects, some operating, could decide to bid those projects into SMART prior to electing SREC II compliance if they view the NEM cap increase as unlikely.

Make sure to check out SolarWakeup Live! in D.C. on 12/6 and NYC late January.

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