A tale of two net metering laws

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Connecticut and New Hampshire are both expanding their clean energy presence. In the Granite State, we’re seeing a legislative push for energy storage to lower peak demand, and utility scale solar growing. While the Constitution State has recently signed off on approximately 45% of its electricity for the next ten years to come from zero-carbon sources.

However, those are 30,000 foot views, and closer to the surface there happens to be some significant turbulence.

In 2018, Connecticut gutted net metering – signing legislation that got rid of the globally important policy, while also increasing the state’s clean energy mandate from 28% in 2020 to 40% in 2030. The legislation passed with a large majority and was signed off on by Governor Daniel Malloy (D).

Today the story shifts about 180 degrees, as we saw a near unanimous vote – 146-0 in the House last week, and a 32-1 vote in the Senate yesterday pass a broad House Bill 5002, An act concerning a Green Economy and Environmental Protection (a nice pdf summary is available here).

Among other matters, the bill extends net metering for two years, expands the virtual net metering program, allows for the electric utilities to own energy storage and rate base customers for the cost of it, and starts the process of researching the value of distributed energy so as to guide future net metering and clean energy legislation.

As an aside, Sunrun communicated congratulations to “Representative Arconti and Senator Needleman for their leadership” on the topic – so maybe pat these folks on the back if you see them. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature, where it is expected to be signed.

 

Setback in New Hampshire

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu (R) has chosen to veto (pdf) an extension of net metering to include behind the meter solar power systems from 1-5 MW, up from the current 1 MWac system capacity that can get net metering.

Governor Sununu’s logic was that 1-5 MW systems will bring benefit to business and investors, but not necessarily locals. The governor claims “hundreds of millions” in rate increases will come to bill payers, and that municipalities hoping to host these projects and gain property tax revenue had good intentions that would lead to harmful outcomes.

Last year, a similar bill was also vetoed by the governor and the Koch Brothers announced that it was partially due to their hard work that the bill was vetoed.

To override the Governor’s will take 2/3 of each chamber must vote in favor. Last year’s bill missed the veto override by 14 votes. This year, the House passed the bill with plenty of votes to spare for a veto, but the Senate passed the bill on a unanimous voice vote, where some members might have abstained leaving some doubt as to the outcome.