New York Commission Lifts Net Metering Cap (again!)
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has yet again raised the cap on solar net metering across the state without fanfare or fuss. The new order allows the cap to ‘float’ at whatever level needed until the Commission decides on what the future of net metering should look like as part of its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process. This is yet another sign of New York’s energy leadership under Governor Andrew Cuomo, PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman and Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman, as the state moves forward with its REV process to bring our electric system into the 21st century.
Net metering provides solar customers fair compensation for the clean, reliable electricity they generate. Caps on net metering create regulatory uncertainty at best and a stop-and-start market at worst, raising many soft costs associated with solar, such as financing. Just look north to Massachusetts to see the chilling effect that hitting the net metering cap can have on an otherwise healthy solar market. Financial institutions view the regulatory uncertainty as a risk and raise the cost of capital to make up for that potential risk. Allowing the caps to float while a transparent process moves forward to consider any potential changes to net metering helps to alleviate this regulatory uncertainty.
Right now, affordable solar power is delivering tremendous benefits to New York. There are 584 solar companies across the state employing 7,300 workers and injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. These projects are delivering energy savings to families, small businesses and communities across the state, while ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone. For these reasons, it makes sense for the PSC to continue one of the state’s most successful solar programs, net metering, while it considers the future of its regulatory design.
Other states across the country should follow New York’s lead. Expanding solar access to more consumers should be a no brainer. Study after study has demonstrated that retail net metering is a fair way to compensate solar customers for the valuable clean energy they are generating. While studying the exact benefits and costs of distributed energy resources in their own state is a smart step to take, this should not hold up net metering and the growth of solar power in the meantime. New York understands this. Other states should too.