NHSEA Pleased with PUC Order on the Future of Net Metering
The NH Sustainable Energy Association (NHSEA) is pleased with the result issued on Friday, June 23, 2017 in the Public Utilities Commission’s final Order 26-029 in Net Metering Docket 16-576.
NHSEA worked tirelessly in this proceeding with its members, experts (NHSEA’s experts included Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer, Vote Solar, Pace Energy and Law Center and Energy Tariff Experts), allies and other stakeholders, for nearly a year in order to bring sound data and consumer and industry perspectives to the Commission and to the public. We went into this process open-minded and ready to share and receive the critical information necessary to inform the ultimate decision, and worked with each and every other party to reach a fair and evidence-based result.
The record conclusively showed that net metering is good for all consumers, and the benefits to all ratepayers are greater than the costs of the program. The Commissioners, in the Order, also concluded that, “there is little to no evidence of any significant cost-shifting. (p. 68)” This is an important conclusion given the requirements to investigate cost-shifting in the legislation (HB 1116) that created this proceeding.
New Hampshire has a robust solar industry, with nearly 1,200 jobs strong and a growth rate that exceeds nearly all other sectors. Solar and small hydro energy are local, in-state forms of energy that generate significant economic activity, which helps our towns, communities, businesses and families.
This order removes the statewide cap. This is a critically important feature of the new net-metering program and something that NHSEA advocated strongly in favor of. NH has had the lowest and most restrictive cap in the region, so this will make NH more competitive with other states, will help attract new investment here and give large energy users greater opportunity to control costs.
Consumers need to be able to understand their value proposition when investing in self-generation: this Order agreed with that and maintains monthly [electric bill] netting of the onsite generation against the customer’s monthly usage.
Net metering is a critical tool to fairly compensate consumers so that they can choose to self-generate their energy. NEM also helps bring new sources of supply online at a time when we see the need to replace old or dirty forms of supply. Recognizing the value that DER (distributed energy resources, like solar, hydro, etc.) adds to all parts of our grid– including transmission, generation, AND distribution–comports with data seen across the country and right here in NH. The reduction in the distribution export rate to 25% of the charge is a reasonable compromise and may be adjusted going forward, depending on the result of a future PUC-led, NH-specific Value of DER study.
Importantly, this Order ensures that all customers who have already made an investment in solar or hydro systems or have a project in the utility interconnection queue will be protected and grandfathered through 2040 under the prior compensation scheme.
“Net metering has been fundamental in creating a strong solar market in New Hampshire, and around the country. The Public Utilities Commission’s order Friday will keep the sun shining on solar in the future,” said Nathan Phelps, program manager of DG regulatory policy at Vote Solar. “We look forward to working with NHSEA, the Public Utilities Commission, and others to successfully implement the order and continue to develop a renewable energy market that works for all of the citizens of the Granite State.”
“We thank all the parties and stakeholders that worked together during this long, sometimes contentious, process. Ultimately we reached a fair result that works for all of NH, and we look forward to continuing the thoughtful work necessary to keep our state competitive, consumer-friendly, and to grow our in-state renewable energy resources,” said Kate Epsen of NHSEA. “This is a result that will protect and benefit utilities, businesses, ratepayers and the renewable energy industry.”
Key Components of the Order:
- The new NEM rate begins on September 1, 2017. May be later if utilities can’t update their billing systems in time to reflect the new NEM regime. Customers must be given 30 days notice in advance of the new rate start date.
- Grandfathering – all existing NEM systems are still grandfathered through 2040. NEW systems (under new rate) also grandfathered through 2040.
- Small systems ≤100 kW are still credited monthly at 100% of retail energy and transmission charges but only 25% of distribution charge; the customer will receive monetary bill credits instead of kWh credits (allowing cash payment if customer moves or annual credit balance exceeds $100)
- Large systems >100kW are still credited monthly at the default energy rate; bill credits now monetary instead of kWh.
- All customer-generators must pay non-bypassable charges (system benefits, stranded cost recovery, storm recovery) based on full amount of electricity imports without netting exports.
- Monthly Netting is maintained – all non-bypassable charges are netted on a monthly billing basis still.
- Value of DER Study: Eversource must perform a marginal cost of service study within twelve months (of Order date) to inform the Value of DER study. Value of DER study will focus on solar and small hydro and use a 10-15 year framework for the analysis. Staff will direct/manage the study, hire a consultant to help perform it, and will begin by convening a workgroup to develop scope of study within two months‘ time of this Order.
- Statewide Cap- No new cap was set (so effectively the cap has been removed).
- Pilots – Four pilot programs are approved, including: Time-of-Use (Eversource and Unitil only), shared bill credits for low/moderate income customers, Real-Time-Pricing for one municipality (Lebanon), and a non-wires alternative pilot.