Upper Peninsula utility first in Michigan to hit solar net metering cap
Upper Peninsula Power Co. (UPPCO) has informed the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) that it has hit its net metering cap for small solar installations, Midwest Energy News reports.
UPPCO has hit its cap for installations of 20 kV or less, but is still accepting applications for installations larger than 20 kW.
UPPCO is the first utility in the Michigan to hit its cap. The state caps net metering programs at 1% of a utility’s peak demand.
Michigan’s net metering program is drawing in a high volume of new solar installations, particularly in the state’s Upper Peninsula area, where rates are higher than the rest of the state.
Between 2006 and 2010, 28 customers signed on to UPPCO’s net metering program. About 10 customers elected to join the program every year through 2014, but in 2015 40 signed on, spurred by a drop in solar panel costs.
All across the state, the PSC says the net metering program has grown from 11.3 MW at year end 2013 to 17.1 MW at year end 2015.
“It’s continuing to grow,” Julie Baldwin, renewable energy manager for the PSC, told Midwest Energy News.
Upper Peninsula utilities are hitting or closer to hitting net metering caps because rates are higher there than in the southern part of the state. The U.P. is also sparsely populated, so it takes fewer customers to reach the cap. Another smaller utility, Thumb Electric Cooperative, is also nearing its net metering cap.
Larger utilities in the state, such as DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, still have more room for customers to participate in the program.
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