On Friday, June 28, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) issued immediately effective emergency regulations to expand the RPS Solar Carve-Out Program Capacity Cap. The regulations will accommodate solar projects that have not previously qualified under the cap but are demonstrably far along in the development cycle and will also allow for small projects (100 kW and under) to continue to proceed, notwithstanding the fact that the program cap of 400 MW has been reached.
DOER announced its intent to issue these emergency regulations during DOER's June 7 RPS Solar Carve-Out presentation [see Day Pitney's 6/10/13 client alert]. The emergency regulations are consistent with market expectations following that June 7 presentation.
Some of the noteworthy elements of those regulations include:
DOER has posted on its website two Excel spreadsheets, one listing all projects that have been deemed qualified and are within the 400 MW capacity limit (RPS Solar Carve-Out Qualified Units) and one listing all projects that have submitted applications that are outside the 400 MW capacity limit (Pending SQAs). As discussed above, no later than July 12, 2013, DOER will post a final version of both lists, providing a final tally of projects that either have already qualified for the Solar Carve-Out Program or will be awarded a Statement of Qualification if the construction timelines described above are met.
By virtue of their nature as emergency regulations, these new rules became effective June 28. In accordance with Massachusetts law, they will remain in effect for 90 days, with an opportunity for DOER to make the regulations permanent. In its announcement corresponding to the issuance of the emergency regulations, DOER announced its intention to "soon schedule and announce a Public Hearing and comment period, in accordance with administrative procedures, and move to quickly promulgate the final regulation so as to keep the regulations in effect throughout the construction timelines and until the new Solar Carve-Out Program is commenced."
Those individuals with concern about the potential for change between the emergency regulations and the final regulations may take comfort in a statement made by DOER in its announcement of the issuance of the emergency regulations: "Given the importance of business decisions being made expeditiously based on the rules of the Emergency Regulations, DOER recognizes the prudence of completing the regulatory process quickly and without deviation".
As always, Day Pitney LLP will continue to stay abreast of the latest Massachusetts solar market developments and update our clients and friends.
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