The Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved final amendments to the state’s net metering policy, first outlined in Jan. 2022, which now refers to the program as the Net Renewable Generation Rules.
The program is much the same as the proposal released in the winter, focused on increasing solar adoption across the board, while also improving access to solar for low- and middle-income (LMI) residents.
The net metering rate, at its base, remains below full retail electricity rates, at 2.5 cents/kWh over the deemed ‘avoided cost’ of solar. In this sense, avoided cost refers to the difference between the cost of solar generated by a rooftop and the cost of the utility procuring that energy from a different generation facility.
The PSC also confirmed the 2 cents/kWh adder for customers who are at or below 250% of the federal poverty line for any solar they choose to export, and this adder comes with no customer nor capacity limit. Both the avoided cost adder and the low-income adder will be legacy programs, available to any customer who signs up for 25-years from their sign up date.
Depending on a customer’s rate structure and the adders they qualify for, their exported electricity rate could end up higher than the retail electricity rate, and specific customer rates will vary.
The new net metering rules also include a requirement that each of the state’s investor-owned utilities offer a one-time $3,500 upfront cash rebate to any retail residential customer purchasing a renewable distributed energy project with a minimum size of between 3 kW and a maximum of 110% of the customer’s expected annual usage, that is used, at least in part, for self-supply.
Both of the adders, as well as the rebate, were created to “meaningfully enhance both access to and the adoption of distributed generation by the currently underrepresented low-income segment of customers.”
Low- and middle-income customers are typically dissuaded from installing solar due to the high upfront costs, rather than by low export rates that increase payback times, hence the inclusion of the upfront rebate.
The PSC also added to the program meter aggregation provisions, meaning that customers with multiple meters can use energy generated by one solar or other form of distributed generation (DG) system on any eligible meter of theirs. Eligible meters must be located on the same premises or within the service area of the customers’ current electric provider.
The number of customers that may participate in net generation has also been raised, with the previous hard 3% participation cap moving up to a 4% non-hard cap. Non-hard, in this context, requires utilities to seek regulatory approval to refuse additional DG customers if and when participation reaches 4% of the utility’s total system peak demand, which the commission may deny.
The new rules will be in place for at least five years from the start date of the order, unless total net distributed generation capacity reaches 4% of the utilities’ system peak demand, at which point regulators may choose to reopen the rulemaking for new changes.
Edit 7/19/2022: This article was amended to update the upfront rebate amount and to clarify rebate rate structures and maximum eligible project size. We apologize for the error.
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