Net Metering Update
August 2, 2019
BCSEA continues to participate in the Utilities Commission’s proceeding on BC Hydro’s proposed amendments to its Net Metering program. (For background, please read). BCSEA filed detailed information requests to BC Hydro in mid-July.
The main issue concerns Net Metering installations that produce annual net excess generation (NEG): where the customer sends more kWh of power to the grid than the customer consumes from the grid over the course of a year. BC Hydro proposes both to reduce the price it pays for annual NEG (called the Energy Price) and to make permanent the current interim ban on new Net Metering participants whose generation systems are sized to intentionally create annual NEG. BCSEA considers this to be an unnecessarily restrictive approach.
The Commission has already ruled that the price for annual NEG should reflect the value of the kWh to the utility, in a proceeding involving FortisBC electric. BCSEA’s key point in the current BC Hydro proceeding is that if the price for annual NEG is reduced to reflect the value to BC Hydro, then intentional NEG should be allowed, not banned. (This assumes that the 100 kW maximum generator size and the Interconnection Approval requirement remain in place.)
BCSEA argues that if the Energy Price reflects the value of the power to BC Hydro then the regular customers are not subsidizing the Net Metering customers who get payments for annual surplus power to the grid. Trying to screen applications to the Net Metering program to prevent what BC Hydro calls “oversized” generation is complex and delays customers from getting onto the Net Metering Program. Often there is uncertainty about the customer’s future load. Will implement energy efficiency measures? Will they add load from additional occupants or a new EV charger? If the ‘Energy Price is right,’ allowing customers to install whatever size of generation they choose (within program limits) would eliminate the complex, time-consuming process of trying to prevent what is fundamentally a good thing: adding small, clean, distributed generation to the grid.
In a nutshell, BCSEA’s view is expressed in this question it put to BC Hydro: Would BC Hydro agree that if the Energy Price is approved at a level that reflects the value of annual net excess generation to BC Hydro, and if there was no new bar to new applicants for net metering who have intentional annual net excess generation, then customers would be able to make their own assessment of the value, financial and otherwise, to them of investing in new Oversized Generation taking into account their own predictions of their future load and future generation?
By Bill Andrews, BCSEA’s lawyer in BCUC proceedings