Massachusetts expands solar net metering, bucking a national trend

Photovoltaics Markets and Technology

Massachusetts expanded entry to web metering, exhibiting a dedication to distributed vitality. The Division of Public Utilities expects to keep away from losing ratepayers $10 million with the regulatory change.

The Massachusetts Division of Public Utilities (DPU) issued an order revising the state’s Web Metering Program legal guidelines, rising entry to a broader photograph voltaic purchaser base.

Web metering is a course by which photograph voltaic prospects export their additional electrical power manufacturing to the grid in alternate for credit score scores on their utility funds. Pace building has been a primary driver in distributed, rooftop photograph voltaic all through the nation.

DPU’s order now permits municipal and state-owned photograph voltaic asset householders to reap the advantages of web metering. It moreover permits the change of web metering credit score between utilities. And big enterprise photograph voltaic facilities are exempt from web metering caps. These strikes, along with a restructured value restoration plan, are estimated to keep away from losing ratepayers $10 million.

Massachusetts has tapped 10.8% of its rooftop photograph voltaic period potential, among the many many highest adoption costs throughout the nation, in step with Environment America. The model new legal guidelines are anticipated to help spur the deployment of photograph voltaic facilities all through the state, help Massachusetts’s switch within the path of electrification, and decrease costs for residents and firms.

This regulatory change bucks a nationwide growth set by California, a state that has despatched its rooftop photograph voltaic enterprise reeling with its transition to Web Energy Metering 3.0. After slashing its web metering credit score rating costs by about 75%, amongst totally different strikes, the state has suffered over 17,000 job losses, primary bankruptcies, and a sharp drop in rooftop photograph voltaic installations. Analysts say that California is now off-track for reaching its native climate goals. Completely different primary rooftop photograph voltaic markets, along with North Carolina, Arizona, and others have adopted California in slicing web metering costs, whatever the enterprise tailspin.

Within the meantime, Massachusetts has doubled down on web metering, recognizing the system-wide value and resilience benefits of rooftop photograph voltaic.

“Web metering permits prospects to cut their vitality costs,” talked about DPU chair James Van Nostrand. “That’s one different occasion of the very important nexus between the clear vitality transition and sustaining affordability for Massachusetts residents.”

Massachusetts models cap on how so much functionality of rooftop photograph voltaic might be eligible for web metering. It used to have an exemption for small strategies of 10 kW or a lot much less. Now, the exemption threshold is expanded to 60 kW, which suggests that almost all of residential accounts and plenty of small enterprise accounts for the time being are eligible for web metering.

Changes to this method embrace:

  • Municipal or state-owned facilities that generate 60 kW or a lot much less can now qualify beneath most people cap of the Web Metering Program; 
  • New potential to modify web metering credit score from positive web metering facilities served by one utility to prospects of a particular Massachusetts electrical distribution agency (EDC); 
  • Exempts facilities that serve on-site load and are greater than 60 kW and fewer than or equal to 2,000 kW (if private) or 10,000 kW (if public) from the web metering caps (as an illustration enterprise rooftop or adjoining car parking zone cowl); and 
  • Changes to the treatment of the Web Metering Restoration Surcharge (NMRS) to chop again costs of this method to ratepayers.

DPU talked about the strikes have been made to help the state adhere to its 2021 climate action plan. The entire summary of web metering revisions might be found here.

Why rooftop?

The most recent modeling from Environment America found that rooftop photograph voltaic has the technical potential to fulfill 45% of U.S. electrical power demand. Within the current day, it solely represents about 1.5% of {the electrical} power used.

“Within the current day, in Massachusetts, chances are you’ll get your vitality straight out of your roof,” Neumann knowledgeable lawmakers. “It’s making a lot much less and fewer sense to pay for power from a distant plant spewing air air pollution after we are able to take within the photo voltaic on our rooftops.”

Rooftop photograph voltaic “has myriad benefits for the setting and clients,” talked about the report. This implies reducing the need for dirty power vegetation and dear transmission traces, providing decreased costs, which can assist to increase the grid’s resilience to extreme local weather and totally different shocks.

Distributed photograph voltaic helps squeeze totally different emitting sources off the grid. Take the 1.4 GW Mystic Producing Station serving the ISO New England grid operator space. The pure gasoline plant was as soon as fired up throughout the winter to forestall blackouts, nonetheless, the grid operator talked about elevated photograph voltaic functionality has made the grid reliable ample to shut Mystic down. Over 5.4 GW of photograph voltaic, most of it rooftop has helped permit the transition away from fossil fuels, even throughout the harsh New England winter.

One different environmental benefit of rooftop photograph voltaic is the low cost of land use for vitality enchancment, sometimes often called “vitality sprawl.” For each gigawatt of rooftop photograph voltaic put in as an alternative to utility-scale initiatives, over 5,200 acres of land are saved.

Moreover, rooftop photograph voltaic can save the nation from rising transmission desires and costs.

“Because of rooftop photograph voltaic generates power that may be utilized on-site reduces the need for transmission from central producing stations, most likely saving states and municipalities time and money on their vitality transitions,” talked about the report. “To reach renewable vitality targets, some enlargement of transmission infrastructure will seemingly be important, nonetheless maximizing the potential of rooftop photograph voltaic will assist to scale back the amount we have now to assemble.”

Photograph voltaic might be now most likely essentially the most cost-effective new period provide in most markets and most conditions within the USA. On widespread, new-build photograph voltaic costs are 29% decrease than the following least expensive fossil gasoline varied, talked about Ernst and Youthful.

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