The Maine Public Utilities Commission (Commission) has approved a notice of rulemaking on Chapter 313, the Customer Net Energy Billing Rule.
The commissioners approved issuing a proposed rule that would make several changes to Chapter 313, which governs the state’s net energy billing (NEB) – generally used to promote the development and operation of smaller renewable generation facilities. Under the commission’s current rule, generation from a customer’s facility may be used as a kilowatt-hour credit (currently, energy plus transmission and distribution charges) to offset that customer’s electricity usage.
In January, Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) filed a letter stating that, at the end of calendar year 2015, the cumulative capacity of the generating facilities for which CMP has NEB agreements under Chapter 313 was approximately 1.04% of CMP’s annual peak demand. Consequently, CMP requested that the commission undertake the review of NEB required by Section 3(J) of Chapter 313. In response to the CMP’s letter, in June, the commission issued a notice of inquiry to obtain comment and information from interested persons regarding Maine’s NEB rules and whether the rules should be modified in light of changing economics and markets.
The major changes to the proposed rule, which will be followed by a public comment period, are as follows:
- As new customers sign up over the next 10 years, netting of the transmission and distribution portion of the bill will be gradually reduced to reflect changes in the costs of small renewable generation technology;
- Netting regarding the supply portion of customers’ bills will remain unchanged;
- The size cap for an eligible customer facility is proposed to increase by 50%, from 660 kW to 1,000 kW;
- Community NEB is explicitly authorized;
- Consumer protections and transparency in community NEB and leasing arrangements will be established; and
- Existing NEB customer arrangements would be unchanged for a 15-year period.
“The commission received many comments over the last several months regarding this topic,” noted Mark Vannoy, commission chairman. “In light of changes in the technology and costs of small renewable generation, particularly solar PV, we felt that opening a rulemaking process to consider changes to the rule was the prudent course of action to ensure that all ratepayers are treated fairly.”