Assembly Energy Chair Approves of PSC Decision to Increase Central Hudson Net Metering Cap

Calls on Commission to Remove Arbitrary Caps Statewide
October 18, 2012

Albany – Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) approved of today’s decision by the Public Service Commission increase the cap on net metering within the Central Hudson Gas & Electric service territory from 12 MW to 36 MW. The action was in response to a petition filed by Hudson Valley Clean Energy after Central Hudson briefly stopped processing net metering applications this past summer upon reaching the previous cap. The Assemblyman called on the PSC to prevent any future disruptions by lifting the limits for all electric utilities.

“Net metering is providing a significant boost to the rapid growth of the clean energy installation industry resulting in the creation of many good paying jobs,” said Assemblyman Cahill. “The potential for market disruptions caused by these arbitrary caps could stunt business development and hurt the State’s efforts to promote increased efficiency and utilization of renewable energy systems.”

Net metering, first adopted in the 1990s and substantially enhanced in recent years, is a simple, fair, low-cost and easily administered mechanism available to utility customers. The law allows households and businesses utilizing clean, on-site generation systems, like solar panels or wind turbines, to receive credits on their bills for any excess electricity they send back to the grid.

“It is clear that the public and the state as a whole have benefited from the increased use of net metering as a means of reducing stress on the electric grid and lowering energy costs,” said Assemblyman Cahill. “The Public Service Commission should take this opportunity remove any unnecessary barriers preventing New Yorkers from investing in clean energy.”

Utilities are allowed, but not required, to limit the number of customers permitted to net meter based on a percentage of electricity used in their service area. This marks the second time in the last five years Central Hudson has exceeded its respective cap.

“In this instance, Central Hudson ultimately acted within the best interests of their customers by continuing to process applications, after briefly halting the program when they exceeded the cap,” said Assemblyman Cahill. “Central Hudson’s decision enabled many small businesses whose success is based, in-part, on the availability of net metering to remain open and viable while the Commission decided on whether to increase the limits.”

As Assembly Energy Committee Chair, Cahill has worked to advance legislation that expands the net metering law by extending the program to cover all consumer classes, removing limits on the size of installations, allowing certain customers to spread credits over multiple meters and permitting the inclusion of new technologies.