Legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives this week passed a bill (HB1116) that would raise the cap on energy that Granite State residential and commercial customer-generators of rooftop solar can sell back to the grid – from 50 megawatts (MW) up to 100 MW.
This would represent a key financial incentive for customers to continue installing and producing their own solar power, and selling it back to the grid.
The bill also would require the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to initiate a proceeding to develop alternative net energy metering tariffs.
New Hampshire households currently use about 4,000 MW on a hot summer day, but only 50 MW have been allowed into the net metering program for the past 10 years, according to the Manchester Union Leader.
The increase to 100 MW was proposed by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), and State Representative Frank Edelblut (R-Wilton). Governor Maggie Hassan supports the increase, as does Eversource Energy, the state’s largest utility.
“Lifting the cap on net metering is essential to the continued success of New Hampshire’s solar industry, and I applaud the House for its bipartisan vote to pass this critical measure,” commented Hassan, adding, The Senate has already supported this legislation, and I urge them to concur with the version passed by the House and send this bill to my desk as quickly as possible so that we can lift the cap on net metering.”
“A key improvement to the bill is that the temporary net metering cap has been doubled,” stated the Conservation Law Foundation. “Because of a backlog of projects, this was essential to allow net metering to continue in the short-term. However, a decision on the future compensation of rooftop solar will still be left to the state Public Utilities Commission.”
As for the second mandate in the bill, the legislators instructed that, “In developing such alternative tariffs and any limitations in their availability, the commission shall consider: the costs and benefits of customer-generator facilities; rate effects on all customers; alternative rate structures, including time-based tariffs … ; whether there should be a limitation on the amount of generating capacity eligible for such tariffs; [and] the size of facilities eligible to receive net metering tariffs.”
Pilot tests of such alternative tariffs may be approved by the PUC before a decision is made to approve them.
The commission also made it clear that the tariffs should be developed with all possible haste, noting, “The commission shall issue an order initially approving or adopting such alternative tariffs, which may be subject to change or adjustment from time to time, within one year of the effective date of this paragraph or December 31, 2016, whichever is later.”
Provisions have been made to overlap the alternative tariff and the existing tariff, if necessary. The bill directs that, “If any utility reaches any cap for net metering … before alternative tariffs are approved or adopted … , customer-generators may continue to interconnect under temporary net metering tariffs under the same terms and conditions as net metering under the 100 MW cap, except that such customer-generators shall transition to alternative tariffs once they are approved or adopted for their utility….”.
The bill now goes to the full floor of both houses for a vote, and then to the governor for signature.