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The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has opened rule making for the new net-metering and long-term contract provisions of Massachusetts' Green Communities Act.

DPU's draft regulations would make renewable energy more economically beneficial for business and residential customers who install wind turbines or solar panels by changing the commonwealth's rules for net metering.

The regulations would enable cities and towns to take particular advantage of the Green Communities Act's new net-metering provisions. Government entities, such as municipalities, could reap net-metering benefits, for example, for each wind turbine they install for their own use, with capacity of up to 2 MW.

"The town of Falmouth will be one of the first beneficiaries of the net-metering provisions of the Green Communities Act, with a new 1.65 MW wind turbine coming online early this summer," says Falmouth Town Manager Robert L. Whritenour Jr.

Also under the Act, electric utility companies are required to enter into 10- to 15-year contracts with Massachusetts-based renewable energy providers - a provision meant to help the Massachusetts' clean energy developers obtain the financing needed to build their projects. Electric distribution companies must solicit long-term contracts for renewable power at least twice in the next five years.

The department will hold public hearings on the net-metering regulations on April 27, and on the renewable power long-term contract regulations on April 28. In addition, as part of the net-metering rule making, electric distribution companies must file a proposed model tariff with the DPU by March 19, and the DPU will hold a technical conference on the proposed regulations April 2. The deadline for filing public comments with the DPU on both sets of regulations is April 14.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

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