Monday, April 27th 2015

Pennsylvania-Public-Utility-CommissionLast week the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission proposed a new rule regarding net metering limits for distributed generation, such as solar PV installations. The rule, tentatively adopted at this point, would allow customers to produce (and sell back to the utility) up to 200% of their annual power needs, an increase from the current limit of 110%.


“The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission moved forward Thursday to set controversial rules and limits for “net-metering” customers who generate their own power from sources such as solar cells.

The commission tentatively adopted regulations that would allow “customer-generators” to produce up to 200 percent of their annual power needs and receive retail electricity prices for any surplus they sell back to the grid.

Solar-energy proponents were encouraged that the PUC’s rules were more generous than earlier proposals, which would have limited power production to 110 percent of power needs. But they questioned whether the PUC has the authority to set even a 200 percent limit.

“There’s no legal basis in the statute to add that restriction,” said Robert Altenburg, a senior energy analyst with PennFuture, who represented several environmental groups in the rule-making process.

 The PUC’s action will trigger a new round of comments before the commission approves final regulations. And those rules could come under legal challenge.

The complex rule-making procedure attracted much testimony last year, including support from power producers such as small-scale solar developers and farmers who produce power from digesters that capture gas from livestock manure.

The PUC’s authority to regulate net-metering was outlined under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004. That law was amended by a 2008 law known as Act 129, which set targets for utilities to reduce energy demand.”