BCSEA gets a win on Net Metering
June 25, 2020
The BC Utilities Commission rejected BC Hydro's ban on new Net Metering participants who propose an electrical generator big enough to create annual net power to the grid. In a long-awaited decision released on June 23, 2020, the BCUC found that BC Hydro had not satisfactorily demonstrated that the ban is required to mitigate significant or meaningful harm.
As expected, the BCUC also reduced the “Energy Price” that BC Hydro pays for annual net surplus power from 9.99 cents/kWh down to a price deemed to reflect the financial value of the power to the utility’s customers. This new Energy Price applies to new Net Metering participants immediately, and to existing Net Metering participants after five years.
BCSEA argued that Net Metering participants should be allowed to produce intentional surplus energy and that basing the Energy Price on the financial value to all customers removes any cross-subsidy. BCSEA said there is a small but growing number of existing or would-be Net Metering customers who are not motivated by profit but by a desire to create and use energy sustainably at a personal and local community level. BCSEA said this is commendable and should not be unnecessarily thwarted.
The Commission said the Net Metering Program has been consistently encouraged as a matter of Government policy since at least 2002, including most recently in the 2018 CleanBC Plan. It said it considers the Net Metering Program to be a beneficial source of clean, distributed generation.
The Commission required BC Hydro to consult with Net Metering stakeholders about topics such as “virtual net metering” and to submit an evaluation report on the Net Metering Program by no later than October 31, 2020.
BC Hydro’s Net Metering Program is for any Residential Service and General Service customers who install a Generating Facility with a nameplate rating of up to 100 kilowatts (kW) to generate electricity to serve all or part of their electricity requirements on the customers’ premises. When Net Metering customers generate more electricity than is needed, the surplus electricity is banked in the customers’ Generation Account and then applied as a credit to offset electricity consumption later, when customers do not generate enough electricity to meet their needs. Once every 12 months on their Anniversary Date, customers with credits remaining receive payment from BC Hydro for those remaining credits at the Energy Price, currently priced at 9.99 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Bill Andrews, BCSEA’s lawyer in BCUC proceedings
BCSEA's Net Metering argument
BCUC Net Metering decision