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New Hampshire Utilities Express Support for Solar Net Metering

New Hampshire's electric utilities have voiced their support for the state's existing solar net metering policy. Eversource, Unitil, and Liberty Utilities have jointly submitted testimony to state regulators, endorsing the current net metering structure. This policy allows customers to receive approximately 75% of the standard electricity rate for surplus solar power they feed back into the grid.

This declaration of support has surprised many clean energy advocates, as utilities have historically advocated for lower net metering rates, arguing that higher rates shift costs onto non-solar consumers. Net metering is a crucial source of revenue for solar customers when their energy generation exceeds their consumption, providing a financial incentive for adopting renewable energy.

The debate over net metering is not unique to New Hampshire; it's a national issue as states grapple with the role of net metering in the transition to clean energy. Critics argue that full retail credits for surplus solar power do not account for the additional costs associated with running utilities, such as maintaining infrastructure and covering debt on construction projects. When solar customers receive a full retail credit, these costs can be passed on to all consumers, including those without solar panels.

Moreover, the discrepancy between net metering rates and utility costs can be more pronounced at certain times, such as sunny summer afternoons when solar panels produce excess energy while grid demand is low. Utilities can end up paying higher rates for surplus solar electricity at times when it's not needed to meet high demand.

Proponents of a strong net metering rate argue that it offers various benefits for utilities, including reducing capacity payments, compliance with renewable energy standards, and minimizing power loss during transmission. However, utilities have often downplayed these advantages.

In their joint testimony, Eversource, Unitil, and Liberty Utilities praised the economics of New Hampshire's net metering policy, calling it one of the most balanced in New England. They emphasized that there is no evidence that the current compensation level is causing unjust cost shifts to non-solar customers.

The future of New Hampshire's net metering policy remains uncertain as regulators deliberate on potential adjustments. A state report suggests that distributed solar generation will provide increasing value to the grid over the next 12 years, with limited cost shifting resulting in a 1% to 1.5% increase in the average residential bill.

Read the full article here: Energy News

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