- The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has limited the fixed-fee increases National Grid had proposed, allowing a small bump to residential fees but eliminating other increases.
- The utility had proposed raising fixed charges from $4 to as much as $20 for residential customers, and from $10 to $30 for small commercial customers. Regulators allowed a residential charge increase to $5.50.
- The decision pleased advocates at Vote Solar who said it will keep the state's renewable sector growing, and noted that National Grid failed to prove a cost shift currently exists from rooftop solar customers to the rest of the rate base.
Solar advocates in Massachusetts breathed a sigh of relief last week when the state's utility regulators accepted a proposal from the state's Attorney General, increasing residential charges slightly but forgoing even larger hikes.
DPU's order rejected a proposal to charge community solar, government, and other solar projects a new monthly fee sought by Massachusetts Electric Co. and Nantucket Electric Co., operating jointly under National Grid. Vote Solar argued the utilities' petitions would have fundamentally changed the structure of fixed charges paid by customers each month.
A monthly fee on types of renewable projects that benefit communities and governmental entities was rejected because the utility did not sufficiently quantify additional costs. Regulators did allow a slight hike in residential fixed charges, but rejected the utility's ask for higher fees because they said National Grid did not prove a cost shift.
That aspect of the decision particularly pleased solar advocates.
"We are extremely happy that the Department of Public Utilities found National Grid’s proposal did not meet the rate design goals of the Commonwealth and that National Grid did not demonstrate any cost-shift from non-solar customers to solar customers," Vote Solar said in a statement.
PV Magazine reports regulators did allow a $28 one-time connection fee for some distributed solar customers.
Fixed fees are a popular option from utilities seeking to recoup costs from rooftop solar customers, but regulators have largely scaled back utility fixed charge hikes in recent years. As a result, many utilities are turning to time-of-use rates or, less commonly, demand charges to recoup fixed costs from customers.