In a proposed decision issued yesterday from the California Public Utilities Commission, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that energy storage devices (i) that are paired with net energy metering- (NEM) eligible generation facilities, and (ii) that meet the Renewables Portfolio Standard Eligibility Guidebook requirements to be considered an "addition or enhancement" to NEM-eligible systems are "exempt from interconnection application
On Thursday, March 27, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission established rules for transitioning distributed generation renewable energy systems from the current net energy metering (NEM) arrangement to the successor tariff which will be adopted by the CPUC in 2015.
The decision, D.14-03-041, was mandated by last year’s passage of AB 327, requiring implementation of changes to California’s NEM program by 2017. AB 327 specifically directed the CPUC to establish a transition period for “pre-existing” systems based on a “reasonable expected payback period” and other factors consistent with California’s policy to promote the use of renewable energy. Under the legislation, systems installed prior to the earlier of July 1, 2017, or the date upon which the customer’s utility reaches the 5% cap on its capacity subject to the net metering tariff, would be eligible for the transition period.
The CPUC decided that 20 years from the date of installation (interconnection) would be the transition period for pre-existing systems. The adopted period is longer than advocated by the utilities and certain ratepayer organizations and shorter than urged by some members of the solar industry and local governments. The Commission also rejected arguments that customers installing systems after adoption of the transition rule should have shorter transition periods on the theory that they had notice of the coming change in tariffs and therefore could not have had reasonable expectations of more lengthy “payback” periods. Continue Reading CPUC Adopts Transitional Net Metering Rules for Pre-Existing Distributed Generation Systems
Yesterday afternoon, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the methodology for calculating value of solar (VOS) tariffs in Minnesota as developed by the Department of Commerce. In doing so, Minnesota became the first in the nation to adopt a VOS tariff methodology.
The Commission was required by statute to take action on the VOS calculation methodology by the end of the month. It had three options: to approve it as proposed, reject it, or approve it with modifications and with the consent of the Department. For background on the Department’s January 31st recommendation, see our blog posts here and here. The Department subsequently included several modifications affecting the fuel price escalation factor, the avoided distribution capacity cost, and the environmental cost categories.
In its ruling, the Commission approved the Department’s methodology, as amended, by a 3-2 vote.Continue Reading Value of Solar Achieves a New Dawn in Minnesota
After a full day of hearing arguments on Xcel’s proposed Community Solar Garden (CSG) program (see more on that here), the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission deliberated in public on the issue yesterday and made some important modifications to Xcel’s proposal. The program would allow Xcel customers to invest in off-site solar facilities and receive…
Final comments were filed yesterday on the proposed methodology for calculating a value of solar (VOS) rate for utilities in Minnesota (more on the proposed methodology is here). With the Commission required to make a decision within 60 days of January 31, 2014, parties remain in fairly wide disagreement about what is required by statute, particularly what values are truly “known and measurable” and whether the value calculation or proposition applies to the particular utility or more broadly to society. Depending on the interpretation of these factors among others, the estimated VOS rate could vary from half of that suggested by the Department’s original $0.135/kWh example to something considerably higher. The rate would eventually apply to Xcel’s Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program and potentially as an alternative to net-metering arrangements for projects under 1MW. In a separate proceeding yesterday, the Commission set interim rates for the CSG program that could be even higher with a placeholder SREC value included (more on that in a separate blog).
Continue Reading Viewpoints Diverge on the Value of Solar in Minnesota
In May 2013, the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation that, among other things, set a solar standard, directed Xcel Energy to develop a community solar garden program, and provided for the development of an alternative tariff mechanism to net metering that would also serve as the rate for community solar garden programs. Under this new scenario and instead of traditional net-metering arrangements, customers would potentially buy all of their electricity from their local distribution utility and then sell all of their PV generation under that utility’s Value of Solar (VOS) tariff which would be designed to capture the societal value of PV-generated electricity.
The legislation directed the Department of Commerce to work with stakeholders to develop a VOS methodology and to deliver its recommendations to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) on Friday, January 31, 2014. The Department’s filing today includes its recommendation, with a more in-depth document addressing the methodology. The Department’s recommendations do not set a rate, but rather propose the methodology for calculating a utility-specific rate for distributed PV solar (1 MW and smaller). If the Department’s sample calculation is any indicator of what’s to come, however, the value went from $0.126/kWh in its initial draft to $0.135/kWh in the documents filed this morning.Continue Reading What is the Value of Solar? Minnesota Agency Starts to Answer. . .
The Minnesota State Legislature’s attempt to expand the amount of electricity that utility companies secure from renewable energy sources cleared a major hurdle recently, as H.F. 956 was included in the House omnibus energy bill. H.F. 956 proposes to increase Minnesota’s renewable energy standard (“RES”) to 40% by 2030. The current standard requires that Minnesota’s…
Via my colleague Thomas Braun:
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals weighed in on a long-running dispute between the City of Orono and city resident Jay Nygard over the installation of a small wind turbine on Mr. Nygard’s property. The dispute began two years ago when the city denied Mr. Nygard a permit…
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new law that could significantly expand virtual net energy metering in California. Since 1996, California utility customers owning renewable energy systems have been able to offset their electricity bills with credits earned by feeding power generated by their systems back to the utility. SB 594 amends California’s net metering law to allow customers to aggregate energy consumed at multiple meters located on their property (or on their contiguous property) and net that use against the power produced by the customer’s renewable facility on the same site.
Meters on contiguous properties must be solely owned, leased, or rented by the eligible customer-generator to be included. Parcels divided by a street, highway, or public thoroughfare are considered contiguous provided that they are otherwise contiguous and under the same ownership. The customer-generator will be able to use the sum of the load of the aggregated meters for purposes of establishing the maximum size renewable generation system to be used for net metering purposes. However, the existing maximum size limit (1 MW) for net-metered generation facilities will apply to customer-generators aggregating multiple meters. Overall, expanded virtual net metering would provide a way for many customers with multiple meters to use on-site generation more efficiently and economically.
Implementation of SB 594 is contingent upon the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) making a determination that the expanded virtual net metering program established by the bill will not result in costs being shifted to non-participating ratepayers. The CPUC is required to make this determination by September 30, 2013.Continue Reading SB 594 Signed into Law: Intended to Expand Virtual Net Metering in California
A report from Stoel Rives attorney Jake Storms (Sacramento):
The California Public Utility Commission (“CPUC”) recently announced that it will reopen the Rule 21 Working Group. Rule 21 governs the interconnection of distributed generation to a utility’s distribution system.
Each of the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego…