- A New Hampshire bill originally intended to boost rooftop solar has been transformed after input from the state's utilities, according to reporting from the Union Leader
- Senate Bill 117, which passed the the upper chamber earlier this week, was constructed to double the state's cap on net metered solar. But now, with comments from Eversource, Unitil, and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, critics say the measure now makes it easier for utilities to own rooftop solar.
- As amended, the bill no longer expands Net Energy Metering (NEM), but removes a barrier to utility rooftop solar ownership by eliminating the requirement that they show a proposed solar investment’s benefit. Instead, the onus would be on opponents of any investment to disprove its value.
Under the altered bill, utilities would also no longer have to show that a solar investment would improve grid reliability and efficiency, nor study its benefits, liabilities, and effect on private sector competition and ratepayers.
With its passage through the Senate, SB 117 now begins pursuit of House approval in the Science, Technology and Energy Committee. The Union Leader reports solar advocates are bombarding committee members with emails urging rejection.
The popularity of solar in New Hampshire necessitated a reconsideration of the NEM cap because rooftop solar was nearing the 50 MW limit. New solar would not earn retail rate reimbursement for electricity sent to the grid.
The original bill would have doubled the cap to 100 MW but utilities convinced the bill author, State Senator Donna Soucy (D), that NEM causes a shift of costs for grid infrastructure. The amended bill proposes the state only study NEM further.
Utilities across the country have opposed NEM with the argument that when customers install solar, they stop paying their fair share of grid infrastructure costs, leaving other ratepayers to pick up the tab. Solar backers respond that in most cases, solar customers still pay their utilities enough to cover grid costs.
A new study in Maine concluded solar’s value there is at least $0.189 per kWh and could be as high as $0.33 per kWh. The average residential retail rate for electricity in New Hampshire is $0.185 per kwh, according to the U.S. EIA.