New York State quietly lifts the cap on net metering

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New York is making headlines for its bold moves to restructure its distribution grid and utilities through the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process. And as the details of this ambitious multi-year process are hammered out, the state is making it clear that distributed solar will continue to move forward under existing policies.

Without fanfare, on October 16 the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) ruled that utilities must continue to enroll solar PV systems in the state’s net metering program, regardless of existing caps, until the REV process determines a new way to value the electricity those systems produce.

In the order, NYSPC references previous rulings which find that net metering should not be put on hold until a successor program can be implemented. This decision was spurred by a petition from Orange and Rockland Utilities, which warned that it was close to a program cap of 6% of load and requested to stop accepting applications when that level was reached.

Despite the language about a successor program, the NYPSC has indicated a preference for not only keeping but expanding a form of net metering during the REV process.

“The convention of net metering has proven a very successful tool to support the growth of the solar industry, and Staff recommends that it continue to be used,” noted NYPSC staff in a REV white paper issued in July.

“Further, a bill-crediting transactional mechanism, similar to that used in net metering, should be considered for distributed energy resources, beyond those to which net metering already applies, that transact with the system either through actions that respond to DSP requests for service, or through the ability to inject power into the system.”

However, it also indicated that the valuation would be different. “The level of compensation should be more accurately defined for larger projects,” stated NYPSC staff. “The current convention of crediting at the average retail rate may be either too little or too much based on the nature of the resource and its location.”