Massachusetts’ New Metering Landscape

Essential Things You Need to Know

 

Over the summer, Massachusetts’ new net metering regulations have been taking shaping. Now, it’s a lot clearer how the measures will actually play out.

 

Overall, the legislation was largely applauded for putting the state’s solar industry back to work by lifting net metering caps that threatened to all but freeze development. However, other key provisions cut net metering rates for virtually all commercial-scale projects.

 

Here’s a brief rundown of the critical things you need to know.

 

How much were net metering caps raised?

 

Net metering caps were increased from 4% to 7% for private sector projects and 5% to 8% for those in the public sector. Though the existing queues for solar projects have largely absorbed the cap increases, in some parts of the state, most notably Eversource (formerly National Grid), which covers the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, and southeastern and central Massachusetts. As a result, the Legislature will likely need to revisit the caps by the end of the year. See chart below for current figures on available capacity.

 

How did net metering rates change?

 

Projects owned by companies, nonprofits, low-income housing entities, and community solar saw rates cut by 40% from the current retail rate. Previously, such projects were credited the full retail rate for electricity going back to the grid. Municipalities and residential customers had no change, thus will continue to receive the full retail rate.

 

What rates would apply to a current commercial project under development?

 

The project owner would need to submit a net metering application, known as ”Application for Cap Allocation” before September 26, 2016 to be grandfathered for eligibility for rates under the old system.

 

It’s important to note that eligibility doesn’t guarantee grandfathering. After receiving the application, Massachusetts System of Net Metering Eligibility (MSNE), the entity that administers the net metering program, must determine the application is complete. That means MSNE may sometimes request additional information from the project owner to verify completeness. The project must receive a cap allocation from MSNE by January 8, 2017 to be grandfathered under the old rates.

 

What other provisions were in the legislation?

Net metering customers will see a new fee, called a “minimum monthly reliability charge,” which utility companies are authorized to charge and must be approved by the Department of Public Utilities. The fee has yet to be determined.

Private: Available, Interconnected, Reserved and Pending Capacity (Values in kW) (as of 8/29/2016)
Company Net Metering Cap Interconnected (a) Reserved Cap Allocations (b) Pending Cap Allocations (c) Capacity Available Under Cap (e) Waiting List (d)
NGrid 359,170 151,853 206,626 42 649 7,774
NStar 348,460 115,865 93,252 5,181 134,162 0
WMECO 59,780 16,283 21,962 8,413 13,122 0
Unitil 7,140 3,721 3,220 22 177 229
NGrid-Nantucket 3,183 46 324 0 2,814 0
Total 777,733 287,768 325,383 13,658 150,924 8,003
Public: Available, Interconnected, Reserved and Pending Capacity (Values in kW)
Company Net Metering Cap Interconnected (a) Reserved Cap Allocations (b) Pending Cap Allocations (c) Capacity Available Under Cap (e) Waiting List (d)
NGrid 410,480 219,117 115,327 11,895 64,141 0
NStar 398,240 133,161 53,803 2,355 208,921 0
WMECO 68,320 19,456 14,130 2,327 32,407 0
Unitil 8,160 3,047 2,853 0 2,260 0
NGrid-Nantucket 3,638 100 0 0 3,538 0
Total 888,838 374,880 186,113 16,578 311,267 0
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