Please note this blog post has been revised from the original May 24, 2016 post.
On Wednesday, May 18th, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) notified the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) of its intent to file its determination that the 1,600 Megawatt (MW) threshold will be met on or about June 1, 2016 and requested that the DPU clarify whether facilities with private cap allocations on or before the “Notification Date” will receive the current net metering credits or the new Market Net Metering Credits. Under the recently enacted Chapter 75 of the Acts of 2016, this determination sets into motion DPU’s charge to establish a “Notification Date”, which will serve as a deadline for systems that are under the private net metering cap to be interconnected or allocated under the cap in order to receive the current net metering credits. Furthermore, the DOER requested that the DPU clarify its Emergency Net Metering Regulations and assure those facilities in receipt of net metering cap allocations on or before the Notification Date that their projects will receive net metering credits at current rates and will not receive Market Net Metering Credits (which are effectively equal to 60 percent of the retail rate). Prior to the DOER’s request, the uncertainty around the Notification Date deadline left private-cap projects in advanced stages of construction at risk of receiving Market Net Metering Credits if they failed to be interconnected by the Notification Date, creating project financing concerns.
In its May 19th Order Clarifying Emergency Net Metering Regulations, the DPU formally recognized that systems obtaining a private net metering cap allocation are “on the path toward interconnection”, since these allocations are assurances that a system will receive net metering services upon authorization to interconnect. In clarifying its policy on net metering credit eligibility, the DPU extended retail rate credit eligibility for projects that receive a private cap allocation by the Notification Date, even if those projects are not yet interconnected. Resultantly, for the duration of the Emergency Net Metering Regulations, Solar Net Metering Facilities that are interconnected or in receipt of a private cap allocation from the System of Assurance by the Notification Date shall receive retail rate net metering credits (that is, Net Metering Credits as defined in 220 C.M.R. § 18.04(1) and (5)).
This interpretation of eligibility will remain in effect only for the effective period of the Emergency Net Metering Regulations, and it is highly probable that the Notification Deadline will be set by the DPU for a date later than June 1, 2016. Following notice by the DOER that the 1,600 MW cap has been allocated, the DPU will solicit comments on the Emergency Net Metering Regulations and related issues, conduct a public hearing, and enact Final Net Metering Regulations effective July 29, 2016. Accordingly, it is possible that the Notification Deadline will be set as July 29, 2016 or possibly later than this date.
In accordance with the Order, facilities under the private net metering cap that fail to meet the Notification Date deadline will receive Market Net Metering Credits. Residential projects 10 kW and smaller on single-phase circuits, or systems under 25 kW on 3-phase circuits, will be exempt from the new rate structure under Sections 7 and 8 of the Act and are guaranteed retail remuneration rates. To be clear, facilities under the public net metering cap will continue to receive net metering credits at the current rates and will not be impacted by this Notification Deadline. For more information on current net metering and other solar legislation in Massachusetts, please visit our previous blog post on the topic here.