Updated June 4, 2019: Gov. Chris Sununu, R, vetoed HB 365 on Monday on the premise it would hurt utilities and burden ratepayers, the Concord Monitor reported. The bill will now go back to the legislature for an override vote, which requires another two-thirds majority vote.
- The New Hampshire state legislature in May passed a bill that would expand the state's net metering cap from 1 MW to 5 MW.
- House Bill 365's passage follows the passage of Senate Bill 446, which would have also expanded net metering, but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu, R, in 2018. However, this year's bill passed the legislature the first time 254-98, surpassing the two-thirds margin needed for it to be veto-proof.
- The bill also prohibits utilities from reselling the power on the grid supplied by net metering customers to ISO-New England, preventing any possibility of utility cost-shifting between customers with solar and those without, Harold Turner, former chairman of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, wrote in The Concord Monitor.
Solar price competitiveness and customer demand for decentralized resources has led more states to meet their net metering caps. In anticipation of this, New Hampshire has sought to encourage further adoption by increasing the maximum amount of distributed solar capacity that would receive credit for power sent to the grid.
New Hampshire "is currently just below 1% grid penetration from solar," Dan Clapp, general manager and partner at ReVision Energy, told Utility Dive in an email, adding that there has been a lot of bipartisan support for the bill, "especially from the industrial and municipal sectors."
The state's current 1 MW limit "is an unnecessary barrier that denies larger electricity users the same rights that smaller users already have to produce and use local renewable power," the bill reads, adding that the current size restrictions also limits investment in small new and existing facilities, and eliminating that barrier is necessary to keep solar investments in-state.
The bill also includes a provision that would prevent utilities from reselling the power generated by those facilities in the wholesale power market.
Under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), qualifying solar facilities "may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility" and ISO New England rules do not require facilities under 5 MW to register as a generator in the wholesale market. If a project chooses not to register as such, then it's treated as a retail load reducer, with its power output banned from being resold to the ISO.
"It is therefore also in the best interests of all citizens of New Hampshire that the size limit on customer-generators that may participate in net energy metering and serve as retail load reducers be increased from one megawatt to up to but not including 5 megawatts," the bill reads.
After the governor's rejection of net metering expansion last year, as well as vetoing another bill that would have subsidized the state's six biomass plants, eleven out of the state's 13 mayors wrote a letter to legislators, urging them to override the governor's veto.
"Notwithstanding Governor Sununu's veto messages on these bills, we believe these bills will engender long term savings to ratepayers and reinforce critical energy supply diversity," the letter reads. "SB 446 will enable our cities to attract private investments in clean energy which will, in turn, directly lower rates for our citizens."
This year's bill is now headed to the governor's desk.