By Kate Epsen
The New Hampshire state legislature passed a group net metering bill, Senate Bill (SB) 98, this past June, which became law in July with Governor Maggie Hassan’s signature. After two unsuccessful attempts to expand individual net metering in NH, SB 98 now enables a critical renewable energy deployment tool already used in many other states, including Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. While individual net metering currently allows a renewable energy system (such as solar photovoltaic or wind) system to spin a single meter backward and credit that NH electric account with the value of that net excess electricity production (up to fifteen cents per kWh), group net metering creates the opportunity for multiple meters at multiple properties to share in that value from a single system. Can’t put solar panels on your roof because it is too shady? Don’t own your building but want to invest in local, clean, distributed energy resources? Can’t afford your own system? Group net metering could be part of the answer to these past problems of access to renewable, homegrown power.
Under SB 98, individuals with their own account and meter within a single utility’s service territory can come together to form a group, with a host and registered members, to share in the value of the electricity production from the group’s host system. Instead of a bill credit that is transferred among the members of the group, the host will receive a monthly check for the value of the excess production to distribute to all members. This production will be measured against a historic baseline of usage across the whole group. Under the NH program, much of the work will fall on the group host who will be responsible for receiving the credit check and distributing it among the group members. The value paid is based upon the size of the system, where systems under 100 kilowatts (kW) receive the full kilowatt-hour (kWh) based charges (approximately 12-15 cents per kWh), and systems over 100 kW and up to one megawatt would receive approximately 5-6 cents per kWh based on the current state of the net metering rules at the NH Public Utilities Commission.
Many towns and businesses are well-positioned to generate their own electricity, empower their communities, and ultimately lower their energy costs. The NH Public Utilities Commission is currently writing the interim rules to implement this new law. Stay tuned for the green light to use SB 98 to better finance and deploy community energy projects, multi-meter office park systems, or campus and municipal projects. While the law may not be perfect yet, it shows important progress toward a clean, smart, and local energy landscape for NH.
Kate Epsen is Executive Director of the NH Sustainable Energy Association and member of the NH Local Energy Work Group.