Massachusetts eyes net electricity metering by small hydropower projects

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued notice of a technical conference to study proposed net electricity metering by small hydroelectric projects. The conference is scheduled Nov. 7, with comments to be filed by Dec. 5.

Net metering allows customers to receive credits for any electricity they generate but do not use. To qualify for net metering in Massachusetts, a customer can install any type of generating facility, including a hydro plant, as long as the facility is smaller than 60 kW. Facilities up to 2 MW, or 10 MW in cases of certain public facilities, are eligible for net metering if they generate electricity with wind, solar photovoltaics or anaerobic digestion, or if they are Agricultural New Metering Facilities.

Under current rules, hydroelectric facilities that are larger than 60 kW and are not ANMFs are not eligible for net metering.

Legislation signed in August by Gov. Deval Patrick directs the DPU, in consultation with the Bay State Hydropower Association, to study the feasibility, impacts and benefits of allowing electric distribution company customers to net meter electricity generated by small hydroelectric facilities. The agency is to report its findings to the Legislature.

As a result, the DPU issued notice (D.P.U. 14-118) Oct. 16 scheduling a technical conference at 10 a.m. Nov. 7 at DPU offices at 1 South Station in Boston. It also called for written comments to be filed by 5 p.m., Eastern time, Dec. 5 to Mark Marini, Secretary, Department of Public Utilities, 1 South Station, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02110 or by e-mail attachment to dpu.efiling@state.ma.us and to the hearing officer at mike.wallerstein@state.ma.us.

The agency requested comments on such questions as how to define “small hydroelectric”; under what conditions to allow net metering by hydro facilities; and how much hydropower capacity might be added if small facilities were eligible for net metering.

In recent years, Massachusetts government has attempted to increase hydropower as part of renewable energy initiatives. Last year, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center requested information from hydroelectric project operators in the state to help it fund energy incentives for increased hydroelectric generation.

A copy of the notice and request for comments may be obtained from the DPU Internet site under http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoomAPI/api/Attachments/Get/?path=14-118%2fVoteandOrder.pdf.
 

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