Massachusetts Legislators are taking a look at the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) recent approval of an Eversource Energy proposal to apply different rate structures to customers who participate in net metering, such as customers who install solar energy systems at their homes or businesses. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) will hold an oversight hearing on the DPU’s recent decision in the Eversource Energy rate case to approve Eversource’s proposal to include a demand charge as a part of a monthly minimum reliability contribution (MMRC) applicable to net metering customers. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 30th at 1pm in State House hearing room B-1.
The DPU’s January 5, 2018 approval of Eversource’s proposed MMRC is getting significant attention statewide and nationally. Eversource’s MMRC increases customer charges and demand charges for customers that choose to net meter, thereby reducing the portion of customers’ bills that is based on the volumetric use of electricity and reducing the value of net metering. It will also include demand charges for residential customers that are not currently charged on a demand basis. Demand charges, which are based on the maximum intensity of a customer’s electricity use rather than the volume of a customers’ use during a billing period, are very unusual for residential customers and raise concerns about the ability of customers to understand how their bills are calculated or control their electricity costs.
The DPU’s decision on Eversource’s MMRC will also be subject to judicial scrutiny. At least two intervenors in the Eversource rate case are appealing the DPU’s approval of the MMRC to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (see petitions here and here).