FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2022
Media Contact: Carlie Clarcq, Carlie.Clarcq@mahouse.gov, 617-722-2013, ext. 3
CAPE DELEGATION CONCERNED OVER DPU REJECTION OF SOLAR PROGRAM
Letter led by Rep. Fernandes expresses concern to the Department of Public Utilities over their rejection of a program to support low-income solar
April 25, 2022 - BOSTON - A Cape Light Compact proposal to convert 250 low- and moderate-income homes to renewable energy on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard was denied by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). In response, 7 Cape Delegation members signed onto a letter expressing concern over the decision. The letter, signed by Representatives Dylan Fernandes, Sarah Peake, Timothy Whelan, and Kip Diggs and Senators Susan Moran and Julian Cyr, requests that the DPU approve of similar programs in the future.
“Urgently decarbonizing our buildings is critical if we hope to reach our climate goals,” said Rep. Dylan Fernandes. “The Cape & Vineyard Electrification Offering is exactly the type of program that we need to equitably transition homes off of fossil fuels, and it is unacceptable that the Department of Public Utilities has denied this proposal.”
The Cape Light Compact’s Cape & Vineyard Electrification Offering (CVEO) was offered as a part of their 2022-2024 Energy Efficiency Plan. The project would provide cold climate heat pumps, solar photovoltaic systems, and battery energy storage systems to 150 homes below 60% SMI and 100 homes below 80% SMI across the Cape and on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Electrification is key to reaching the Commonwealth’s vital climate goals,” said Senator Julian Cyr. “The Cape Light Compact’s proposal for the Cape and Vineyard Electrification Offering meets the needs of the community and ensures low- and moderate-income households can participate in this essential program. I urge the Department of Public Utilities to reconsider their interpretation of Green Communities so that municipal aggregators have the ability to create plans that serve residents and further us along in our endeavor to address the climate crisis.”
Transitioning home heating and energy to renewables is very difficult for low- and moderate- income households due to high upfront costs, despite long-term energy savings. This program would give these households the tools they need to take advantage of renewable energy and reduce energy burdens for the Cape & Islands families most in need. The proposal is also in line with the Commonwealth’s climate goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
“I certainly hope the DPU reconsiders its decision and acts in the best interests of Cape & Islanders finally,” said Representative Sarah Peake. “It seems all too often that the DPU can’t get out of its own way to support innovation on the part of entities like the Cape Light Compact.”
“CVEO is a cost-effective solution for low- and moderate-income residents who are looking to make the switch to more energy efficient appliances,” Senator Susan L. Moran said. “The Compact is making smart use of existing, and successful, programming to reach those who may have limited means, but still wish to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels. To deny this proposal would be contradictory to the guidance of the Green Communities Act, as well as the groundwork we have established to give communities autonomy over their own path towards emissions reductions.”
Despite the many benefits of the program, the DPU denied the CVEO project on the basis that it is not in line with the 2008 Green Communities Act, because the proposal changes the energy source but does reduce energy use. However, updates to the DPU’s statute and the Green Community Act passed by the legislature in 2018 and 2021 require the DPU to prioritize programs that facilitate the transition to renewable home energy systems, as well as those that take into account equity and the Commonwealth’s climate goals. This program would clearly fulfill the measures outlined in these legislative updates.
“Proud to support the Cape Light Compact’s ongoing mission of serving Cape Codders through the delivery of proven energy efficiency programs, including that of their proposed Cape & Vineyard Electrification Offering which would allow low and moderate-income consumers to participate in energy efficiency programming in accordance with the Commonwealth’s climate goals,” said Representative Steven Xiahros.
“The Cape Light Compact appreciates the Cape & Islands legislative delegation support of CVEO,” said Maggie Downey, Cape Light Compact Administrator. “Our income eligible customers are being left behind in both the installation of solar PV and the electrification of their homes. We believe CVEO is a viable option to address this issue and would represent meaningful local action to address climate change.”
While the Cape Delegation has not yet heard back from the DPU, efforts are continuing in the legislature to pressure them to approve similar programs. The Cape Light Compact has also appealed the DPU’s decision and court proceedings are ongoing.