On October 14, 2009, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (Commission) voted to adopt new regulations establishing net metering requirements for economically regulated utilities. A final version of the regulations was formally adopted on January 15, 2010.
Net metering serves as an important incentive for consumer investment in renewable energy generation. It allows a customer of a regulated utility to interconnect eligible onsite generation facilities with their electric utility's distribution system. Customer-generated electricity can then offset electricity consumption on a kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. In general, the new regulations:
1. Apply to electric systems owned by economically regulated electric utilities with total retail sales of 5,000,000 kWh or more (that includes HEA).
2. Affected utilities are required to interconnect with eligible customer generation systems up to a system-wide total capacity of 1.5% of their average retail demand. Customer interconnection can be refused if it would cause the total net metering capacity to exceed 1.5%.
3. Eligible customer generation systems are limited to a total on-site capacity of 25 kilowatts.
4. Net metering customers are billed for net monthly consumption. If the customer uses 800 kWh and generates 600, he or she will be billed for 200 kWh.
5. When more electricity is generated during a given month than is consumed, the customer is credited for the excess at the wholesale power rate. If the customer uses 800 kWh and generates 1,000, he or she will receive a credit for 200 kWh at the wholesale rate. Credits will be applied to reduce the dollar amount of subsequent monthly billings. Credits do not expire or revert to the utility.
6. The RCA must now establish interconnection requirements for eligible customer generation systems. In early 2010 a workshop will be scheduled on RCA Matter Number: R-09-002, Consideration of the Adoption of Regulations Implementing an Interconnection Standard, to determine what these requirements will be.
7. Technologies eligible for net metering generation are limited to solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, hydrokinetic, ocean thermal, landfill gas and biogas energy, along with other sources as approved by the commission that generally have similar environmental impact.
This is a good start. There are some exceptions possible as outlined in the "fine print" of the regulations and through an RCA waiver process. It will be important now to assure that the interconnection standards favor individuals and businesses wanting to install alternative energy systems. Find more information at the RCA website (http://rca.alaska.gov/RCAWeb/home.aspx/).