ReVision Energy's solar installation crew at a jobsite in Seacoast New Hampshire.

ReVision Energy’s solar installation crew at a jobsite in Seacoast New Hampshire.

In response to New Hampshire’s largest utilities hitting solar net metering caps, local installer ReVision Energy has re-affirmed our commitment to the New Hampshire market. “Rapid advances in solar technology and the increasing cost of maintaining an outdated electric grid make it clear that solar will be a significant part of a 21st century grid,” said Dan Clapp, managing partner of ReVision Energy’s rapidly growing territory in New Hampshire, “We have an excellent workforce based here and we expect to continue to grow once our state’s solar policy is modernized.”

Net metering is the policy under which a grid-connected solar electric array is able to back-feed excess power to the utility company, who then credits the customer. Any time solar generation is not adequate to meet a customer’s electric demand, the customer uses electricity from the power grid, and is able to tap into solar credits to offset their bill on a per-kilowatt hour retail rate.

“Net metering is a foundational policy for a healthy solar industry,” Clapp noted, pointing to neighboring Vermont where utilities voluntarily asked for net metering caps to be raised after rapidly hitting outdated caps (set at 3% a decade ago). Those VT caps on solar penetration were recently lifted to 15% of total peak demand on the grid. New Hampshire’s cap on net metered solar (set at the turn of the century) is 1%, a number which highlights the potential growth in the sector once the arbitrary and outdated cap is lifted.

The NH Legislature is currently considering a short-term lifting of the cap, which has bipartisan support but also fierce opposition from narrow interests that want to slow solar adoption. Bill SB333 calls for a modest raising of the cap, from 50MW to 75MW, which is better than no legislation, but still will leave the industry facing uncertainty. “We are in support of SB333 but are deeply concerned the additional 25MW cap will be reached in just a few months,” Clapp said, “Continued uncertainty is bad for consumers and bad for business. We urge lawmakers and the PUC to work quickly to create long-term policy for sustainable solar adoption in New Hampshire.”

While ReVision Energy remains optimistic, we stress that the uncertainty about net metering must be resolved expeditiously by the NH legislature if the solar industry is to continue to thrive in New Hampshire. In the meantime, we encourage potential solar customers to continue file to interconnect with the utility. While applications received now will be under rates less favorable than retail net metering, these customers will be served first if and when the cap is raised. We can work on a project-by-project basis to determine whether a particular customer wants to have a project built before certainty about net metering status is determined. Overall, we’re confident additional net metering capacity will open up either as projects drop off the net metering queue or the legislature acts on SB333 and raises the cap for all utilities.

Customers may also want to consider adding a battery storage system such as the Sonnenbatterie or Tesla PowerWall (both of which ReVision Energy will offer to the NH market this year) which allows a consumer to both have backup power in event of a power outage, and to protect themselves from regulatory uncertainty due to the battery system’s ability to optimize itself for ‘self-consumption’ of solar energy.

“Consumer demand for solar is high and growing higher,” Clapp added, “And ReVision Energy intends to be here long-term, providing quality jobs for solar professionals and cost-saving and environmentally beneficial systems for our customers.”