Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has urged the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to raise the limit for a net-metering benefit that allows homeowners to earn credits on their energy bills for the production of excess solar power.
According to an announcement from Schumer's office, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. (CHG&E), a utility provider in New York's Hudson Valley region, has reached its net-metering limit set by the PSC. Therefore, CHG&E recently suspended the net-metering benefit for all of its future solar customers.
As a result of pressure from Schumer and the local solar sector, however, CHG&E announced late last week that it would begin processing net-metering applications temporarily until the PSC issues its ruling.
Schumer believes that the PSC needs to make a permanent fix to the net-metering limits by increasing the net-metering cap for privately owned utilities. The PSC's current 1% peak-demand limit amounts to only 12 MW for CHG&E, he notes.
Schumer also points out that until the limit is raised, CHG&E will receive the excess power generated by new solar installations free of charge. Additionally, 159 solar installations are pending for CHG&E, but the suspension of net-metering benefits could lead to the cancellation of many of these projects and a loss of revenue for solar businesses.
The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE-NY) applauded Schumer for taking up the net-metering fight.
‘We are pleased that Central Hudson has voluntarily elected to continue its net-metering program, but the issue remains that customers and installers in every utility territory need long-term assurances,’ notes Carol E. Murphy, executive director of ACE-NY. ‘Many renewable energy installers are small, local businesses that cannot survive without a continuous stream of projects, and a disruption of several months may very well drive some of them out of business.’