Net-Metering News from Maine and California

January 2, 2019 Alerts and Newsletters

On December 17, 2018, the Maine PUC exempted medium and large non-residential customer classes of CMP and Emera from compliance with the Commission's net energy billing provisions in Chapter 313, section 3(f), which require measurement of a customer's production of "nettable energy." The Commission enacted, effective for facilities in service as of January 2018, Chapter 313 (1) in light of the declining costs of constructing small renewable generation facilities and (2) in order to reduce the inequity of shifting transmission and distribution (T&D) costs to ratepayers not participating in net energy billing. Order Adopting Rule and Statement of Factual and Policy Basis, Docket No. 2016-00222 at 10 (Mar. 1, 2017). Chapter 313 gradually ratchets down, by 10% each year beginning in January 2018 and down to 0% in 2026, a generators' potential "nettable energy"—the generation credits that renewable generators can net against their T&D kWh charges. Central Maine Power Request for Approval of T&C Section 57 – Net Energy Billing, Docket No. 2018-00037 (Me. P.U.C. Dec. 17, 2018) (Order Granting Exemption).

The Commission deemed that an exemption of large and medium non-residential classes was justified largely due to the way those customers pay for T&D service—primarily through demand charges—in contrast with small residential customers' bills that seek recovery of T&D costs through KWh charges. Id. at 1 n.1, 3. The Commission found only a negligible impact on the cost shift to non-net energy ratepayers in the two affected customer classes, one insufficient to justify the costs of additional metering (typically through installation of a second meter). Id. at 3. The Commission will require Emera and CMP to include in their future biannual NEB reports (1) the costs associated with installing second meters, (2) the administrative costs associated with billing, and (3) the estimated costs incurred that form the basis for any billing system changes. Id. at 4.

Across the great divide and also in net-metering news, energy financing companies in California are positioning to adapt to new residential building code mandates in 2020. This past spring, California lawmakers introduced building code revisions that would mandate solar energy deployments on all residential properties under three stories and newly constructed in 2020. The notice of proposed action lauded the new building standards as creating an avoided-cost value over thirty-years that is "greater than any increased construction costs that will result from the Standards." California Energy Commission,2019 Standards Notice of Proposed Action, Docket No. 17-BSTD-02 (Jan. 18, 2018) (citing an average of $10,538 in construction costs and $16,251 in net present avoided energy costs).

Now, solar financing providers in tandem with multi-family construction and behind the meter technology companies are looking to profit from the standards using solar car ports' tax credits and accelerated depreciation benefits to offset construction costs. SDC Energy, Don't Dread New Title 24 Solar Mandates; Profit from Them, (Dec. 11, 2018). Building owners will gain from the sale of solar energy while tenants see 10% to 15% on their utility bills. Key to this equation is California's recent approval of "virtual net metering," a system in which individual tenants and owners of multifamily properties can benefit from both using and selling back to the local utility solar energy generated on site. The program relies on an energy monitoring database that collects individual tenants' solar energy usage, which is then used to generate a solar usage charge that is added to the rent bill for each tenant.

The landscape of Maine's community and non-residential small scale generation look markedly different from that in California, and those differing contexts suggest divergent cost-benefit implications for residential and non-residential small-scale renewables.

Please direct any questions to Verrill Dana's Energy Law Group.

Firm Highlights

Blog

Intertidal Court Victory for Property Rights, Marine Conservation, and Public Participation

The Maine Superior Court has dismissed all claims against five intertidal landowners represented by Verrill in Masucci v. Judy’s Moody, LLC . The landowners had been sued because they contacted Maine Marine Patrol to...

Blog

Four Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Chambers & Partners for Energy and Environmental Law in Maine

Verrill attorneys Juliet T. Browne, James I. Cohen, Gordon R. Smith, and Mathew J. Todaro were recently recognized for energy and environmental law in Maine in the 2022 Chambers & Partners Guide . Chambers...

Blog

Verrill Partner Mat Todaro selected to serve on the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources 2022 Fall Conference Planning Committee

Earlier this year, Verrill Partner Mat Todaro was selected by American Bar Association leadership to serve on the 2022 Fall Conference Planning Committee for its Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources. In this role...

News

31 Verrill Attorneys, Across Four Offices, Recognized in 2022 Chambers & Partners Guide

Matter

Verrill Helps Hancock Solar Project Obtain MDEP Permit, Protect Upland Sandpipers

The 14-megawatt Hancock Solar project in the town of Hancock, Maine has obtained its Site Law permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Verrill assisted the project with environmental permitting, which included the...

Publication/Podcast

New Rules for Apprentices on Energy Projects Come with Uncertainty for Contractors and Developers

On January 1, 2021, a new law went into effect setting benchmarks for use of apprentices on energy generation facility construction projects. Enacted in 2019, the law was part of “An Act to Establish...

News

77 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2023, Including Six Named Lawyers of the Year

Publication/Podcast

Amplify Your Process Safety Podcast with Mathew Todaro

News

Verrill Welcomes Attorney Clayton Brite to Firm’s Real Estate Group

Blog

Verrill Partner Mathew Todaro Presents at The National Safety Council (NSC) of Northern New England’s 51st Annual New Hampshire Safety & Health Conference

The National Safety Council (NSC) of Northern New England recently held its 51 st Annual New Hampshire Safety & Health Conference in Nashua. The two-day conference began on June 7 th and featured keynote...

Contact Verrill at (855) 307 0700