Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) has modified the two programs challenged by TransCanada Power Marketing Ltd. (“TransCanada”) in a federal law suit. TransCanada filed its complaint on April 16, 2010, alleging that portions of the Green Communities Act that were intended to increase in-state renewable energy resources were unconstitutional because they favor Massachusetts producers in violation of the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause generally prohibits states from enacting laws that burden out-of-state businesses in order to give a competitive advantage to in-state businesses.
The first modification came in early June as a result of settlement negotiations. Massachusetts modified the Solar Carve-Out program to grandfather in rates for Alternative Compliance Payments (“ACP”) that were contractually committed or renewed before January 1, 2010. ACP are paid by electric companies that do not hold the required amount of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (“SRECs”) that must be produced only by facilities located in Massachusetts. In exchange for this rule change, TransCanada dismissed its claims challenging the Solar Carve Out on June 9, 2010, but continued to press forward with its Commerce Clause challenge to a Request for Proposals for Long-Term Contracts for Renewable Energy Projects (the “RFP”) issued by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) this year.