On February 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued two long-awaited orders in docket D.P.U. 17-146. The orders address a number of issues related to pairing energy storage systems (“ESS”) with net metering facilities and the rights to the capacity associated with net metering and SMART facilities. There are too many issues in these orders to address each fully here, but below are some high-level highlights.… More
Category Archives: Net Metering
Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Releases Far-Reaching Draft Legislation
Yesterday, February 12, 2018, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change released a Proposed Draft of legislation staking out an ambitious and far-reaching set of policies across a wide range of sectors.
There is a lot in the proposal and we are still reviewing the details, including the differences among mandates, targets, goals and discretionary authority.
For now,… More
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Investigates Issues Relating to Net Metering, Energy Storage, and Forward Capacity Market Participation
On October 3, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) opened a new docket (D.P.U. 17-146) to investigate two issues: whether energy storage systems paired with net metering facilities are eligible for net metering and what should be done to clarify the rights of net metering facilities to participate in the Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”).
These issues have been percolating for years. In fact, D.P.U.… More
Stakeholders have been following the development of “SMART” as a successor to the SREC program in Massachusetts for more than a year. (See our previous posts on the development process here, here, and here.) As it stands, SMART reflects a determined effort by the Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) to craft a program that balances multiple interests and sets a sustainable path for solar development in Massachusetts. … More
Late last month, the 2nd Circuit Court of appeals rejected a challenge to Connecticut laws intended to encourage use of renewable energy. Earlier this month, Judge Manish Shah, of the Northern District of Illinois, issued a companion decision, rejecting challenges to the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, which grants “Zero Emission Credits” to certain facilities, “likely to be two nuclear power plants owned by Exelon in Illinois.”
(Caveat: This firm represents,… More
For the purposes of qualifying for net metering credits, section 138 of M.G.L. c. 164 defines a “Solar Net Metering Facility” as “a facility for the production of electrical energy that uses sunlight to generate electricity and is interconnected to a Distribution Company.” The statute and accompanying regulations are silent regarding the co-location of energy storage equipment with such a qualifying Solar Net Metering Facility.
National Grid has interpreted this silence to be a total prohibition on solar + storage for net metering facilities.… More
On September 23, DOER presented a straw proposal for the next phase of Massachusetts solar incentives. DOER’s ambitious proposal for a tariff-based program reflects a thoughtful development process and a laudable goal of crafting a program that is more efficient at promoting sustained solar deployment. There is plenty to like. But, DOER has bitten off quite a mouthful by proposing a structure that departs so dramatically from the SREC approach. … More
On April 11, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law compromise legislation modestly raising the cap on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows customers to generate solar power to offset electricity costs and provide surplus power to the grid.
The program was previously limited to 4 percent of peak electricity demand for private projects and 5 percent for public projects. These limits were reached in National Grid’s service territory last March,… More
IRS Issues Favorable PLR Allowing an Individual Panel Owner in an Offsite, Net-Metered Community-Shared Solar Project to Claim the Section 25D Tax Credit
The Internal Revenue Service has issued a private letter ruling to an individual owner of solar panels installed in an offsite net-metered community-shared solar project confirming the individual’s eligibility for the income tax credit under Section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code. A redacted copy of the PLR 201536017 is available from the IRS’s website here. This PLR provides significant insight into the IRS view on the application of Section 25D to community-shared solar projects.… More
One week after the Massachusetts legislature departed for its summer recess, Governor Charlie Baker today released net metering legislation to rival the Massachusetts Senate’s recent bill.
Where the Senate bill would have simply raised the net metering cap to 1600 MWs and largely retained the current net metering credit calculations, the Governor’s bill would increase the metering cap but would substantially reduce the calculation of net metering credits.… More
Recently, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously voted to move forward in developing a net metering policy. This decision comes (somewhat) on the heels of an independent study commissioned by the state’s PSC concluding that distributed solar would provide levelized net benefits to the state over a period of twenty-five years. Adding to a growing body of work finding untapped value in distributed solar,… More
The latest volley in the ongoing debate over the economic value of solar policies comes from Maine, where the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) released an independent study finding that the net value of distributed solar is $0.337 per kWh when levelized over the course of twenty-five years. That is significantly more than the state currently offers as offset credit to customers engaged in photovoltaic net metering.… More
Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board Finds MA Department of Revenue’s Denial of Property Tax Exemption for Virtually Net Metered Solar Facility “Incorrect,” Based on an “Illusory Distinction” and “Entitled to No Deference”
On December 4, 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Appellate Tax Board (the “Board”) promulgated its Findings of Fact and Report in Forrestall Enterprises, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Westborough.
The Findings represent a major change in the application of the Commonwealth’s property tax exemption for off-site, net-metered and virtual-net-metered wind and solar systems. For some time now, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (“DOR”) has taken the position that certain net metered solar and wind systems,… More
The Massachusetts DPU Issues Regulations to Increase Net Metering Caps, but What Does the Future Hold?
On November 4th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued emergency regulations to implement the increase in net metering caps that was included in the thermal energy bill that passed at the end of the legislative session (An Act Relative to Credit for Thermal Energy Generated with Renewable Fuels, Chapter 251 of the Acts of 2014). The action here was in the legislation, which we wrote about in August. … More
Massachusetts may soon add hydroelectric facilities to the growing list of net metering eligible distributed generation in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has issued a notice and order opening a proceeding (DPU 14-118) under which DPU will take the first steps towards developing legislation to enable net metering of small hydro.
Enabling small hydro to participate in net metering has the potential to provide benefits not only to owners of such current facilities but potentially also for the redevelopment of dams,… More
Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill Increasing Net Metering Caps, Creating Net Metering Task Force and Creating REC For Renewable Thermal, Solar Thermal, Geothermal Ground- and Air-Source Heat Pumps and More
In the final hours of its legislative session, the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation to create a thermal energy REC program in the Commonwealth, lift the caps on the Commonwealth’s existing net metering regime and appoint a 17-member “Net Metering Task Force” to study the “future of net metering.”
Net Metering Caps
Rather than enacting an anticipated comprehensive overhaul of solar regulations and incentives in the Commonwealth (which would have completely lifted net metering caps and blended the state’s net metering compensation method with its solar SREC program),… More
The Massachusetts DOER has released its revised regulations amending the State’s RPS to implement the next phase of support for solar in the Commonwealth. Redlined pages are available here.
From here the regulations will be reviewed at most for 30 days by the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy which may provide comments to DOER. After review of any such comments by DOER,… More
Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued an Order, D.P.U. 11-11-E, that addresses several controversies that had arisen out of its Order, D.P.U. 11-11-C, issued last summer. Although the Order in 11-11-E does not go as far as some commenters sought, it is a win for net metering customers and developers relative to the status quo. It allows for more flexible project designs to meet the demands of unique sites,… More
Are Distributed Generation and Demand Side Management Trends Poised to Cause a Radical Transformation in the Electric Utility Industry?
The Utilities themselves may be starting to take the threat seriously. A recent report prepared for the Edison Electric Institute by Peter Kind of Energy Infrastructure Advocates argues that technological and economic changes – led by falling costs of distributed generation (think primarily PV, but also storage, EVs and other distributed technologies) and increasing interest in demand side management technologies (think efficiency) – are “game changers” that could lead to changes in the electric utility industry comparable to those experienced by the telecommunications industry beginning in the late 1970s.… More
Renewable energy developers in Massachusetts will soon learn if there is slightly more net metering capacity available for new projects than expected. Under the new Massachusetts Net Metering System of Assurance (D.P.U. 11-11-A Order Adopting System of Assurance of Net Metering), project developers who believed their projects were close to receiving authorization to operate from their electric distribution companies had the option to reserve a share of net metering capacity for a period of 90 days from the effective date of the System of Assurance (“Transitional Period”).… More