In a surprise move, the DOER recently sat down with two utilities, NU and NGRID and two utility sponsored solar associations, SEIA and NECEC, to draft what has been titled “Compromise Net Meter Legislation” (click here). To date there is no sponsor or a bill number in either house, but what is clear is that the future of solar PV ownership incentives will be under the control of the utilities who have historically made every effort to kill solar at every opportunity, recently quoted calling solar PV owners “free-loaders” in the Boston Business Journal.
What is important to understand at this time (June 10) is that hopefully this terrible legislation will not be introduced to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee (JCTUE) by June 15 in order to be considered for vote this summer. So we are asking everyone to support S2019 / H3901 (click here) and send emails, phone calls, letters ASAP, to learn more click here.
Our secretary, Christopher Smith, did speak with Dr. Breger from DOER about the so-called “Compromise Bill” and an outline was sent of key important points (click here). He attempt to say that Senator Dowling as well as sponsors of S2019 / H3901 had given their blessing to this utility sponsored alliance, which is untrue. Dr. Breger had no explanation as to why the DOER would so easily abandon SREC2 after committing almost two years of exhaustive studies (which included the declining block feed-in tariff), and numerous public hearings and review of the JCTUE. Perhaps most troubling is why the utilities, a state regulated monopoly, with a legislated guarantee to make a profit, were invited by DOER to negotiate the future of solar PV, and now would be given the authority to regulate solar PV, both Net Metering and incentives … in simple terms this legislation for utility shareholders is a dream come true.
In summary, S2030 (click here), the current utility bill, is titled “… reducing the cost of solar power through increased competition” which it would do by ending net metering and killing future solar development. Now we learn of a “compromise bill,” for which we have only an outline, that appears less severe, it is clear the goal is still the same. The utilities may concede the ongoing existence of Net Metering, but their plan to charge a solar transmission fee to every ratepayer will re-enforce the public perception that solar PV is “free-loading” at everyone’s expense. The truth today is that the utilities get paid twice for solar PV electricity sent to the grid: once when they sell it to the PV owner neighbors, and second by the “Net Meter Recovery” fee they impose on ratepayers … now they will get a third payment from the “PV transmission fee” and that is just plain outrageous!