- "The Minimum Bill as a Net Metering Solution," a new report from GTM Research, concludes that a minimum bill set by state regulators would be preferable to a fixed charge for solar customers.
- Massachusetts House Bill 4185, compromise legislation from a breakthrough agreement between renewables advocates, utilities, and regulators, includes a minimum bill, a new approach to infrastructure costs that stakeholders hope will grow solar without the controversy associated with a fixed bill charge.
HB 4185 must be passed by Massachusetts legislators before the minimum bill and other changes to the state’s solar policy are implemented, including (1) elimination of the net metering cap, (2) a reduced virtual net metering reimbursement rate, (3) replacement of the SREC rebate program with performance-based incentives, and (4) making the 1,600-megawatt installed solar capacity target legally binding.
If a distributed energy owner’s monthly net energy use is positive, the bill is the total kilowatt-hours at the retail electricity rate. If net energy use is negative, the bill is for zero kilowatt-hours and the minimum bill applies. Excess net metering credits carry over and as long as the net metering credits -- either those carried over or those for the current month -- reduce the bill to zero kilowatt-hours, the minimum bill applies.
With a hypothetical $10 minimum bill, an NStar customer with a 6.3-kilowatt rooftop solar system, a $0.1733 per kilowatt-hour retail electricity rate, and a $7 per month fixed distribution charge, would pay $434.77 per year while the same customer, with a $10 monthly fixed charge, would pay $458.77 per year. The extra $24 comes from the $3 -- the solar customers' $10 fixed charge minus all customers' $7 monthly fixed distribution charge -- for the eight months when reduced solar production eliminates the minimum bill.