Report of the Renewable Energy Committee

Article excerpt

This report summarizes key legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments affecting renewable energy, both on a state and federal level, during 2012. This report is organized by region.*

I. NORTHEAST

A. Connecticut

In March 2012, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) approved Connecticut's Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority's (CEFIA) plan for CEFIA's new solar photovoltaics (PV) residential investment program, which aims to support a total of thirty megawatts (MW) of residential solar PV within Connecticut.1 The initial tranche of funding approved was $7.5 million; ultimately, the value of incentives provided under the program is expected to exceed $40 million.2 Under the program, consumers can either purchase solar PV systems directly and obtain a rebate equal to $2.275 per watt for the first 5 kilowatts (kW) of the system and $1.075 for the next 5 kW, or install a third party owned system and receive a performance-based incentive of $0.30 per kilowatt-hour, paid based on actual performance of the system over six years.3

In October 2012, the CT DEEP issued its draft2012 Comprehensive Energy Strategy for Connecticut (DraftStrategy).4 In the DraftStrategy, the CT DEEP proposes to, among other things,

[u]se economic incentives . . . to bring down the cost of renewable electricity, spur innovation, and promote a portfolio of alternative energy technologies that can compete with existing fossil fuel generation over time[;] [f]ocus on the deployment of renewable energy at scale using limited government resources to induce private sector investment through the Connecticut Green Bank (CEFIA), Zero (and Low) Emissions Renewable Energy Credits, and other innovative financing mechanisms; [and] [s]tudy Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard . . . with an eye toward considering: (1) raising the target, (2) broadening what counts as 'renewable' and (3) expanding in-state clean power generation.5

B. Massachusetts

In February 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities "issued a net metering order promulgating legislation that revised the state's net metering law."6 "The order specifies there will be two aggregate participation caps-one cap reserved for municipalities and other governmental entities" (2% of a local distribution company's peak load), and "another cap for all other net metering facilities" (remains at 1% of a local distribution company's peak load).7 The order defines the "net metering facility of a municipality or other government entity as: a Class II or III net metering facility (1) that is owned or operated by a municipality or other governmental entity; or (2) of which the municipality or other governmental entity is assigned 100% of the output."8 "The maximum amount of generating capacity eligible for net metering [and owned] by a municipality or other governmental entity at [ten] megawatts."9

In August 2012, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity in the Commonwealth.10 The Act includes a number of provisions relating to renewable electricity. For example, it raises the cap on the maximum size of Class I and Class II hydroelectric generation facilities eligible for the Commonwealth's renewable portfolio standard to 30 MW and 7.5 MW, respectively, and permits electric utilities to own solar generation, up to 25 MW of capacity, if they obtain approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by June 30, 2014.11 The Act also modifies the long term contracting by electric utilities for renewable generation beginning January 1, 2013, until December 31, 2016, and raises the cap on net metering to 3% for both public and private projects, with the total cap raised from 3% to 6% of peak load, with certain projects exempted entirely from the cap.12

C. New Hampshire

New Hampshire legislators passed a statute, which went into law without signature by the Governor in June 2012, restructuring the state's involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and including a contingent withdrawal from RGGI, triggered if two or more other New England states withdraw from RGGI. …