NH net metering bills passed

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The New Hampshire legislature is acting to expand that state's net metering programs.  Now the question is how much: a 50% expansion, or a doubling?

New Hampshire law requires electric distribution utilities to offer eligible customer-generators a standard tariff for net energy metering. Solar panels are the most commonly net metered type of generation, but other technologies are also used.  Net metering under these tariffs is available "on a first-come, first-served basis within each electric utility service area" until each utility hits its specific cap on net metered capacity.  Under existing law, each utility's cap is effectively its share of a statewide program cap of 50 megawatts.

On January 20, 2016, utility Eversource announced it had reached its cap, and that it would place new projects going forward on a wait list.  But New Hampshire is home to significant interest in expanding net metering.  In the same announcement, Eversource described its work with the state legislature "to enact an expansion to the net metering program."  As the utility said, "Such an expansion would alleviate much of the uncertainty being faced by customers and developers, and would provide time for stakeholders to investigate all of the various costs and benefits of distributed generation and to provide for a sustainable evolution of the net metering program."

Meanwhile, Eversource also indicated a request that state regulators "develop a more permanent solution to the challenge of fairly compensating developers of new distributed generation in a manner that does not shift costs to other customers."

In February, the New Hampshire Senate voted to increase the net metering cap from 50 megawatts to 75 megawatts.  That bill, S.B.333, also directed the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to develop a net metering tariff for all generation above the 75 megawatt cap.

This month the New Hampshire House passed H.B.1116, a bill that would double the cap, to 100 megawatts.

Under New Hampshire legislative process, these two bills must be reconciled before a proposal can be sent to Governor Maggie Hassan.  But she has expressed strong support for reconciling the bills and expanding net metering:
Lifting the cap on net metering is essential to the continued success of New Hampshire’s solar industry, and I applaud the House for its bipartisan vote to pass this critical measure. The Senate has already supported this legislation, and I urge them to concur with the version passed by the House and send this bill to my desk as quickly as possible so that we can lift the cap on net metering.
The New Hampshire House and Senate now have the opportunity to reconcile the bills and present them to Governor Hassan for her signature.  Assuming this happens, New Hampshire will significantly expand its net metering program in the near term.

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