- Pennsylvania regulators last week voted unanimously to make changes to net energy metering rules, clarifying that only customer-generators qualify for the rate while other generators will get a lower remuneration, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
- However, the new rule may be at odds with a recent appellate court decision which found the state’s Public Utility Commission does not have jurisdiction over the interpretation of the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act.
- The state's law limits net metering to alternative energy systems that max at 50 kW for residential systems and 3 WM to 5 MW for other systems.
The Pittsburgh-Gazette reports the Pennsylvania PUC has approved changes that will limit net metering benefits to only customers who generate additional power alongside their own demand. According to the commission, net metering is not intended for generators whose primary purpose is to generate clean energy.
Last year, the Commission set retail rate remuneration rates for excess energy from distributed generation facilities, but also defined size limits for exporters, limiting them to 50 kW for residential systems and 3 to 5 MW for others. Those limits, however, sparked controversy among generators who said the PUC could not set limits on the size of DG facilities. Critics said it was overly broad and could be used to block a wide range of parties from net metering.
PUC Chairman Gladys Brown said the changed definition will fit within the state's alternative energy law. "I believe that the revised definition of utility is consistent with the act and is in the public interest,” she at a hearing last week.
The case hinges on a dispute where Sunrise Energy claimed it was eligible for net metering rates from West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, for a 950-kW solar power project it developed.
Sunrise Energy and West Penn entered into a power purchase agreement in 2010, with Sunrise qualified as a “customer-generator” as the owner of a distributed generation system of less than 3 MW. West Penn terminated the PPA with Sunrise in May 2014, arguing that Sunrise is an “electric generation supplier” under the Alternative Energy act as amended by the PUC.
The appellate court did not rule as to the definition of a customer-generator under Pennsylvania law, but appeared to find limits on the PUC's jurisdiction. According to the decision, "the trial court did not err by refusing to cede jurisdiction to the PUC. Statutory construction is a responsibility of the judiciary, not the executive branch.”