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Legislation: solar in Massachusetts

In December, 2021 two important bills were filed in the Massachusetts legislature to solidify the power of municipal governments to use their local land use powers under the Zoning Enabling Act to reasonably regulate solar. An antiquated provision of the Zoning Enabling Act, Chapter 40A, Section 3, says no municipality should “unreasonably regulate solar except where necessary for the public health, safety and welfare.” The corporate solar industry is using this to bully local municipalities into approving solar, often suing under this law when they consider the municipality’s permits to be “unreasonable.” Section 3 of Chapter 40A was adopted as a law before industrial solar was a thing in Massachusetts. This outdated law was intended for residential solar — not massive industrial scale projects that strip forests and destroy land like we are seeing in Massachusetts today. The law does not address toxic lithium ion battery storage that accompanies most ground mounted solar today. The law needs to be changed. Contact your legislator!

See the bills here:

S2596 and HD4607

In 2021, the solar industry and large corporate landowners in Massachusetts proposed Senate 590 to “align” solar subsidies with agricultural subsidies. They want to be able to keep the low tax rate for agricultural land under Chapter 61 A while also grabbing ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies for large scale industrial solar on that farm land. We oppose this bill — industrial solar on farmland is not an “agricultural use” and landowners should not get agricultural subsidies when the chose to run an industrial energy generating facility and battery storage project on their land. Often these projects are over 50 acres — this is not a subsidy to help “small farmers” as the proponents of the bills try to claim.

Senate Bill 590: Bill to expand solar subsidies for landowners with property in Chapter 61A

Some of the testimony on pending solar bills is here:

Save Massachusetts Forests has legislation that would protect our forests from large industrial scale solar. Check out their pending bills at: www.savemassforests.com and RESTORE: The North Woods

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