On March 29, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission officially extended net metering to systems installed by third-parties through a final order in Docket M‑2011‑2249441.
In June of 2011, the PA PUC issued proposed clarifications on the owner/operator requirements of net metering systems in the state.
Last fall, a number of parties, including IREC, submitted comments on the order. The central issue was whether the word “operate” in the phrase “own or operate” included a third-party owned system. The initial proposal recommended that it should, so long as the third-party had a contractual obligation to maintain or operate the system. However, the proposed order insisted that third-party systems be limited to 110% of customer’s annual load. This would prevent third parties from disguising a wholesale system as a NEM system.
The Final Order adopted the tentative order’s recommendation on these points, but clarified that the 110% limit only applies to third-party systems and does not represent a new limit on NEM systems. As applied to the state’s Virtual Net Metering (VNM) law, the Commission determined that the 110% limitation would apply to the aggregation of all loads for meters that are eligible for VNM from a particular third-party owned system. In the order, the PUC noted that “it should be the policy of this Commission to support access to alternative energy systems to as broad an array of consumers as possible.” The order further stated that the Commission was “aware of the fact that consumers often may need to make a significant initial capital outlay in order to install an alternative energy facility at their residence or small business, and that this significant capital expense is an impediment to many consumers wishing to install such systems.”