NYS Net Metering Analysis & Capacity Tracker

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 allows consumers with alternative energy systems to export unused energy back to the grid in exchange for credits on their utility bills. 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 August 2014 <pdf>

Figure 1: Current NYS law requires utilities listed below to provide net metering to customers for a minimum of 3% 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 June 30, 2014 compares the amount of applications in process and installed to the minimum requirement. *Long Island Power Authority’s data is approximate and reported as of July 31 st , 2014.

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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.

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. 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. It is important to note, the law does not prohibit the utilities from providing net metering beyond the required limit to additional customers. Publicly owned state and municipal utilities are not obligated to offer net metering, but some, like Long Island Power Authority, provide similar programs.

 

Potential Expansions

On April 24th, 2014, the PSC authorized $960,556,000 to continue funding solar programs under the NY-Sun Initiative through 2023. In the order, the PSC stated the current net metering policies and 3% capacity level will need to be significantly expanded to support the new goals, and authorized NYSERDA to prepare a study to evaluate New York’s net metering policies.  The PSC also ordered utilities at risk of reaching the capacity level to file a petition to continue accepting net metering applications.

The following charts detail the amount of generation capacity that is net metered (measured in kilowatts or kW) for each utility as of June 30th, 2014, and compares it to the amount of net metering the utilities are required to provide. As soon as the limitation is reached for a given utility, it will no longer be required to accept net metering applications unless the 3% of 2005 peak demand limit is raised. Projected growth trends are shown for utilities closest to the capacity limit. 

Figure 2: Percent of total net metering capacity limit already installed and in process for non-wind systems as of June 30th, 2014. Once 100% is reached for a utility, they will no longer be required to accept net metering applications. *Long Island Power Authority’s data is approximate and reported as of July 31st, 2014.

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Figure 3: Actual growth trend of projects net metered since May 2013 compared to 3% of 2005 peak demand capacity for non-wind systems. KW includes installed and applications in process.

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Figure 4: Based on historical data, if Central Hudson Gas & Electric’s non-wind net metered systems were installed at the same linear rate, the 3% capacity limit could be reached by March of 2015. If the rate increases at the same exponential growth rate, the capacity could be reached before the end of 2014. 36,000 kW is 3% of 2005 peak demand for Central Hudson.

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Figure 5: Based on historical data, if National Grid’s non-wind net metered systems were installed at the same linear rate, the 3% capacity limit could be reached by October 2014. If the rate increases at the same exponential growth rate, the capacity could be reached by September 2014. 196,080 kW is 3% of 2005 peak demand for National Grid.

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Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Comparison

New York has adopted a RPS target to have 30% of state electricity consumption be produced by renewables by 2015. Of this 30%, approximately 510.8 MWs (megawatts) are to come from Customer-Sited Tier (CST) resources. CST resources include solar PV, fuel cells, solar thermal, on site wind turbines, and methane digesters. As of the end of 2013, 331 MWs of CST resources have been installed or are in progress. For comparison, the maximum net metering capacity regulated utilities are required to provide for non-wind systems is a total of 729 MWs, which is 218.2 MWs more than New York’s RPS target for CST resources. New York’s 30% RPS target covers the entire state, while the Net Metering Public Service Law §66-j does not, leaving out territories served by publicly owned state and municipal utilities, such as, Long Island Power Authority. Long Island Power Authority has more than a third of New York's installed solar in their service territory, which will likely help New York surpass its RPS goals before reaching the net metering capacity limits. NYSERDA estimates 3 GWs of solar will be installed in the state by 2023.

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

Renewable Portfolio Standard program information and latest performance reports

PSC Orders  for Renewable Portfolio Standard

List of all New York electric utilities