Reject Eversource Rate Increase for Solar Customers
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In January 2017, Eversource Energy filed a request to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to increase electricity distribution rates and change its rate structure that will unnecessarily penalize customers who have or want to install solar.
This rate change has to be approved by the MA Department of Public Utilities and we ask the DPU to reject Eversource’s proposal for the following reasons:
- Eversource’s proposal does not account for the well-documented value solar and distributed generation brings to the grid, ratepayers and our state economy. Study after study has concluded that the economic benefits of net metering actually exceeds retail utility costs. These benefits include: reductions in distribution and transmission losses from an aging grid (distributed generation is provided onsite or nearby), the avoided costs of building new power plants (solar delivers the most electricity in the summer, when needs are highest), and leverage against the financial and environmental risks associated with our dependence on fossil fuels (rates are expected to remain high due to the increased demand and exports of natural gas and the 2016 Porter Ranch disaster made clear that pipelines are not without risk).
- Commercial and residential customers evaluate the return on investment when deciding to invest in a solar array and the proposed rate changes will severely impact the viability of many new solar projects. In the new structure, solar residential customers who install after January 1, 2018 will be subject to a new monthly minimum charge ($10.83) and a demand charge (approximately $2.11 per kW based on monthly peak power consumption). At a minimum, for the average new solar customer, these changes will add $400 per year in unjustified utility costs that they would not typically have to pay.
- This will be the first mandatory residential application of demand charges, which are based on monthly peak power consumption, and would be difficult for residents to anticipate or manage. Even commercial customers, which have more energy management tools at their disposal, often struggle to manage and budget for demand charges. It is illogical and unfair to impose these charges solely on net-metered customers.
- Our understanding is that existing net metering customers will also be moved into this rate structure starting in 2020, based on law Chapter 75 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act Relative to Solar Energy.” We firmly believe that any rate change - monthly minimum and demand charges included - should not single out solar customers who install before the rate change is adopted. These customers should be grandfathered into the current rate structure or treated as non-solar customers if a rate structure change is approved in the future.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made scaling up renewable energy production and encouraging residential energy efficiency to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emission targets central components of its efforts to meet the state’s goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act. At this time, the goal should be the continued expansion of the base of renewable energy production, not penalizing such customers with unjustified changes in the rate structure.
We urge the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to reject Eversource Energy’s proposal and ensure any future rate changes account for the value solar customers add to the electricity grid.
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