News from DSIRE: week of May 30, 2011
CONNECTICUT – Rebates Stimulate Solar Water-Heating Market
The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund has announced that its solar hot water heating rebate program is approaching its funding limit. The program began in October 2009, using federal stimulus funds. Commercial rebates are fully subscribed, and residential rebates are drying up. Given the popularity of the program and the growth of the state’s solar hot water heating industry, the CCEF has proposed extending the program. Stay tuned for details.
INDIANA – Renewables Goal Established
The Indiana legislature has enacted legislation (SB 251) creating a Clean Energy Portfolio Standard, setting a goal – which is not legally binding – of 10% by 2025. Investor-owned utilities may apply to participate in the program and will receive financial incentives for increasing their renewables capacity. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission must establish rules by January 2012, at which point utilities may apply.
INDIANA – Net Metering Expanded
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has issued a final rule on net metering, increasing the maximum individual system capacity from 10 kW to 1 MW, and allowing all renewable energy resources, as defined by the state’s new Clean Energy Portfolio Standard, to participate. The new rule also allows any electricity customer to net meter, but requires that at least 40% of a utility’s net metering capacity must come from residential customers.
MARYLAND – New Laws Elevate Solar Water Heating, Waste-to-Energy
In May 2011, Maryland enacted legislation affecting the treatment of waste-to-energy resources (S.B. 690) and solar water heating (S.B. 717) under the state’s RPS policy. Waste-to-energy facilities (previously considered Tier II resources) connected to the Maryland distribution grid now qualify as Tier I resources. In addition, solar water heating systems, which formerly did not qualify for the RPS, now qualify as eligible resources for the solar carve-out requirement. Among other requirements, solar water heating systems must be commissioned on or after June 1, 2011, in order to qualify.
MARYLAND – Net Metering Snafu Repaired
In May 2010, Maryland enacted legislation (HB 801) revising how customer-generators are compensated for net excess generation. During the associated Maryland Public Service Commission rulemaking, it became clear that the law was being interpreted in a way that was detrimental to many net metering customers (i.e., monthly rollover at wholesale rather than retail rates). Subsequently, in May 2011 the state enacted HB 860 (effective June 1, 2011), revising the law to provide monthly rollover of net excess generation at the retail rate once again, and annual reconciliation of customer accounts in April of each year at the customer’s average commodity energy supply rate.
MASSACHUSETTS – Commonwealth Solar II Rebate Round Winding Down
Block Six of the Commonwealth Solar II program opened April 15. It is already closed to expedited installers, and only a limited amount of funding remains for non-expedited installers. Stay tuned for announcements regarding Block Seven.
MASSACHUSETTS – Community-Scale Wind Application Deadline Looms
The Commonwealth Wind Community Scale Initiative grant program is also on its sixth block, and the application deadline is June 1. Grants are designed to support wind projects 100 kW or greater. Funding is available for site assessments (public entities only), feasibility and design, and construction. This program has been up and running since April 2009, with distinct application periods and funding blocks.
NEW JERSEY – New Loans for Clean Energy Businesses
The Edison Innovation Green Growth Fund, administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, offers loans to for-profit companies developing Class I renewable energy (as defined under the state’s RPS) and energy-efficiency products. For businesses that meet a series of requirements related to in-state workforce, job creation and other criteria, loans from $250,000 – $1 million are available for a fixed five-year term, with interest rates ranging from 2% – 10%. In order to qualify, the technology or system must have already achieved “proof of concept” and begun to generate commercial revenues.
NEW HAMPSHIRE – Net Metering Enhancements Under Way
New Hampshire enacted legislation in June 2010 that revised the state’s net-metering policy, and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and interested stakeholders have been developing implementation rules. Comments on the draft rules were due at the end of April, and final rules are expected soon. The changes will raise the individual system capacity limit from 100 kW to 1 MW. In addition, the definition of the state’s aggregate capacity limit changed from 1% of a utility’s peak demand to 50 MW; each utility’s contribution to that maximum is calculated as a percentage of its “total 2010 annual coincident peak energy demand.” REC ownership is clarified; credits are granted to the system owner (in the past, the rules were silent on this issue,) and treatment of net excess generation has changed. The DSIRE summary of this policy will be updated after final rules are issued.
NEW YORK – PSC Standardizes Net Metering Crediting
In May 2011, the New York Public Service Commission issued an order addressing two aspects of the process of crediting net excess generation (NEG) for net-metering customers. First, the order requires utilities to adopt consistent NEG credit calculations that include all kWh-based customer charges beginning June 1, 2011. Previously, some utilities did not include certain charges (e.g., the System Benefits Charge or SBC) in the calculation of NEG credits. Second, the order also requires utilities to allow customers eligible for an annual cash-out of unused NEG at avoided cost, such as residential solar customers, to make a one-time selection of the annual period in question. This provision will apply to both existing and new net metering customers and is intended to avoid circumstances where the time period used for the annual cash-out is disadvantageous for some customers.
VERMONT – Vermont Energy Act of 2011 Signed
Details are not yet in DSIRE, but stay tuned for many changes to a variety of Vermont’s renewable energy policies and incentives! For an overview of the provisions of the Vermont Energy Act of 2011, see Renewable Energy Vermont’s web site.
WEST VIRGINIA – Interconnection Standards Corrected
On May 19th, the West Virginia Public Service Commission issued a ruling adding comprehensive interconnection agreement language to its interconnection and net metering rules. In 2010, the PSC discovered an omission related to Level 2 interconnection agreements. During the proceedings to correct the omission, the PSC incorporated more comprehensive language into the standard agreements. The new rules take effect July 18, 2011. West Virginia’s interconnection rules are among the best in the United States.