NYS Net Metering
Sustainable CUNY, of the City University of New York, is executing a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II program, NYSolar Smart, a project to implement solutions to lower the soft costs of installing solar in New York State (NYS). Under this initiative, Sustainable CUNY formed a NYS Net Metering & Interconnection Working Group that includes all of NY’s major electric utility companies.
net metering frequently asked questions
Net metering allows consumers with alternative energy systems to export unused energy back to the grid in exchange for credits on their utility bills.
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net metering analysis and Capacity Tracking
One goal of the working group is to increase transparency for stakeholders as utility territories approach the net metering limits established by the Public Service Commission (PSC). NEM Analysis April 2014 <pdf>
Figures 1 & 2: Current NYS law requires utilities listed below to provide net metering to customers for a minimum of 6% of their 2005 peak demand for non-wind systems and 0.3% for small wind systems. Once total kW net metered reaches the capacity, utilities are not required to offer additional net metering to customers. Data reported as of February 28, 2015 compares the amount of applications in process and installed to the minimum requirement. *Central Hudson Gas & Electric’s data is as of December 31, 2014.
“kW Connected” means the amount installed and the application is completed with the utility. “kW Proposed” represents only those applications that have been submitted, but not completed with the utility. The “Percent of capacity used” compares the “Total kW” of applications connected and proposed and compares it to the 6% capacity limit.
Net Metering 'Limits'
In New York State, the PSC establishes a level of distributed generation for which each regulated, investor-owned utility is required to offer net metering in its service territory. These limits are generally set as a percentage of each utility’s peak electric load from a particular year, and they represent the amount of installed capacity for which the investor-owned utilities are required to provide net metering to their customers. They are referred to as minimum ‘limits’ or ‘caps’, because it is the minimum generation capacity a utility is required to purchase net metering from its customers.
history and current policy
Initially, for solar PV and other non-wind technologies, these limits were set at 1% of each utility territory’s 2005 peak demand. However, Central Hudson Gas & Electric reached the limit in July 2012, and following a petition by Hudson Valley Clean Energy, the PSC issued an order directing them to triple the capacity limit to 3% in October 2012. On July 1, 2013 the remaining regulated NYS utilities were directed to raise the net metering limit to 3% of 2005 peak demand.
Most recently, on December 15, 2014 the PSC directed the NYS utilities to raise the net metering limit to 6% of 2005 peak demand. Public Service Law (PSL) §66-j sets the limits for non-wind systems (solar electric, biogas, micro-hydro, micro-combined heat and power, fuel cell technologies) and §66-l for wind systems. Wind net metering capacity is currently 0.3% of 2005 peak demand. The PSC may increase the limits if it is determined to be in the public’s interest. Publicly owned state and municipal utilities are not obligated to offer net metering, but some, like PSEG Long Island, provide similar programs. PSEG Long Island’s current net metering limit is 3% of 2005 peak demand for solar PV and other technologies and 0.3% for wind.
It is important to note, the law does not prohibit the utilities from providing net metering beyond the required limit to additional customers. In the past, National Grid continued to offer net metering once the 3% capacity was reached and did not disrupt the market, and Central Hudson has filed petitions to the PSC to raise the limit when they were close to reaching it.
The following charts detail the amount of generation capacity that is net metered (measured in kilowatts or kW) for each utility as of February 28th, 2015, and compares it to the amount of net metering the utilities are required to provide. Central Hudson’s data is as of December 31st, 2014. As soon as the limitation is reached for a given utility, it will no longer be required to accept net metering applications unless the 6% of 2005 peak demand limit is raised.
Figure 3: Percent of total net metering capacity limit already installed and in process for non-wind systems as of February 28, 2015 (*Central Hudson is as of December 31, 2014). Once 100% is reached for a utility, they will no longer be required to accept net metering applications.
Figure 4: Actual growth trend of projects net metered since May 2013 compared to 6% of 2005 peak demand capacity for non-wind systems. KW includes installed and applications in process.
Figure 5: Based on historical data, if National Grid’s non-wind net metered systems were installed at the same linear or exponential growth rate, the 6% capacity limit could be reached by June 2015. 392,160 kW is 6% of 2005 peak demand for National Grid. This is a much faster growth rate than previously seen due to an influx of many 2 MW applications submitted in 2014. 63% of the applications are proposed, and have not been completed. In the past when the previous 3% capacity limit was reached, National Grid continued accepting net metering applications and did not disrupt the market.
For more information
Current Net Metering Inventory reported quarterly to the PSC
DSIRE includes each PSC Order and Amendment for Public Service Law (PSL) §66-j and §66-l
PSC Orders for Renewable Portfolio Standard
List of all New York electric utilities