New Hampshire Homeowners with grid-tied solar arrays, like this one recently installed by ReVision Energy, will be eligible for 20+ years of grandfathered retail net metering if they get their application in by Sept 1, 2017.
New Hampshire's Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) has issued a long-awaited ruling on solar net energy metering (NEM). The rule is a compromise which resolves uncertainty around New Hampshire's solar energy policy, and reinforces the basic argument of solar advocates - that solar generates value for the grid well above wholesale rates - as well as calling for important pilot projects which will help regulators design future solar policy so that the market sends accurate price signals to ensure that distributed energy resources, such as solar PV, continue to be deployed in a way that saves everyone money and also reduces pollution.
For most of solar's history, solar customers received a 1:1 credit for electricity, meaning, 1 exported kilowatt-hour of solar was worth 1 imported kilowatt-hour of grid power later. This is called net metering.
Importantly, the NHPUC firmly rejected draconian cuts to NEM proposed by the utility companies in its order . It found there was no evidence that solar exported to the grid resulted in cost-shifting to other ratepayers, as the utilities had alleged, and instead propagated some relatively modest changes to the way solar system owners are compensated for their exported energy in the near term while setting up a process to collect additional data to support a longer term move towards rate a design and solar compensation scheme which sends more granular and actionable price signals to customers of all kinds.
On the good - we are pleased to see a policy that creates a stable policy environment in New Hampshire, and that acknowledges the reality that solar - and other distributed energy resources like wind and hydro - offer unique value to the energy grid. Further, the rule is in line with our view that policy that governs a modern grid should be designed with appropriate price signals to take advantage of those values, resulting in lower pollution and energy savings for all. Also, the abolition of a net metering cap means that we can continue to make long-term planning decisions to serve the needs of NH solar customers for years to come.
On the not-so-good - Solar customers will receive a slight reduction in compensation for exported kilowatt-hours used outside of the month in which they were created. Value of Solar studies (more on them in a moment) in many states have found that solar exported to the grid is in fact worth MORE than the retail rate of electricity. So even though the cut is modest, it is still probably unfair. In our view, a transition to a 100% clean energy-powered society is necessary and urgent, and energy policy should be accelerating rather than pausing that transition whenever possible.
Meanwhile, the PUC has also called for a set of pilot projects that will investigate how innovate programs or modern rate design can help incentivize customers to make private investments in distributed clean energy resources to lower ratepayer costs and further benefit the state. The proposed pilot projects include a 'Time of Use' pilot by each Eversource and Unitil, a low/moderate income solar pilot by each utility, a municipal aggregation pilot with Liberty utilities and the city of Lebanon, and finally a 'non-wires alternative' (NWA) pilot in each utility territory.
The NWA pilot may be similar to Maine's Boothbay Pilot Project which demonstrated overwhelmingly that a combination of efficiency, lighting upgrades, battery storage, solar, and other technologies could meet a grid reliability need at a dramatically lower cost than a traditional grid build-out approach.
Interested in solar? The right thing to do is get in touch and get the process going . We'll do our best to accommodate customers who want to get their net metering contracts in prior to Sept 1, but even after that date, solar ROI will be great in New Hampshire and we look forward to decades more of supporting a 100% clean energy transition in the Granite State.