DPU Allows Wind & Solar “Net Metering”
Under Green Community Act provision to spur renewable energy development, customers who generate more power than they use can sell back energy at higher rates
BOSTON – Net metering for wind and solar energy installations, a provision of the Green Communities Act designed to encourage development of renewable power, takes effect on December 1 under an order adopted by Department of Public Utilities (DPU) last Friday (11/13).
Net metering encourages homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to install solar panels and wind turbines by allowing them to earn credit on their electric bills if they generate more power than they need. Under the Green Communities Act signed by Governor Patrick last year, utility companies must compensate their customers for this excess electricity at the retail rate rather than the lower wholesale rate. Additionally, customers may allocate their credits to other customers, allowing those without facilities to take advantage of net metering benefits as well.
The DPU order approved Friday is the last regulatory step needed for electric customers to take advantage of the Act’s net metering provisions. As a result, customers who own renewable energy installations can submit net metering applications to their electric distribution companies beginning December 1. The DPU issued its final net metering regulations in June of this year, followed by a model net metering tariff in August. Friday’s DPU order approves electric utility interconnection tariffs and requires that the electric companies immediately file net metering tariffs that comply with the terms of the model tariff approved in August.
“Businesses, consumers, and cities and towns across Massachusetts are eager for net metering to get underway, increasing the value of renewable power for those who install it,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes the DPU. “This action propels the Commonwealth further along Governor Patrick’s path toward a clean energy future.”
“Net metering will accelerate the development of renewable energy projects across the Commonwealth by putting the economic value of power generated by these projects on par with electricity purchased from the grid,” said DPU Chairman Paul Hibbard.
Prior to the Green Communities Act, net metering was restricted to on-site renewable energy projects capable of generating 60 kilowatts or less, and customers were able to sell their power back to the grid only at the wholesale rate. Now, customers who own larger wind turbines or solar power installations – up to 2 megawatts, and even larger for municipal and state installations – can sell excess power back to the grid at the higher retail rate. Even customers who do not generate excess power will save money on their electric bills by generating some portion of the electricity they use.