NY Public Service Commission Approves Modified Customer Benefit Contribution Model

Commission addresses some clean energy concerns, leaves room for improvement

New York — The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a proposal that would require solar customers to pay a Customer Benefit Contribution (CBC), a monthly fixed charge used to fund energy efficiency programs, solar programs, and low-income discount programs. The average residential solar customer will see their monthly bills increase by between six and nine dollars.

The CBC agreement was first established in 2020, after the PSC elected to retain New York’s net metering program for residential and small commercial customers. Vote Solar and other renewable energy advocates were in favor of keeping net metering, which compensates solar customers for excess electricity produced by their solar systems. The CBC model was adopted by the PSC as a compromise to retain net metering while ensuring that future net metering customers contribute to social benefit programs.

When utility companies filed their proposed CBC structure in the fall of 2020, clean energy advocacy groups objected to the calculations used and provided recommendations for a more just implementation. In their written order released Friday, the commission incorporated only some of those recommendations. Specifically, the order states that the CBC should not include demand response charges and that customers who already pay demand charges should be exempt from the additional fee. The order states that the CBC will be used to “recover the costs from these customers for key policy programs that aid low-income customers and fund energy efficiency and clean energy programs,” which are programs that benefit everyone.

Notably excluded from the order is a recommendation that CBC charges should be reduced to account for the contributions net metering customers already make to public benefits programs.

“We’re glad that the commission is maintaining solar net metering, and has decided to remove demand response from the Customer Benefit Contribution program,” says Nathan Phelps, Northeast Regulatory Director at Vote Solar. “The public benefit programs that the CBC will help fund — low-income programs, energy efficiency programs, and solar programs — are all paths forward to a clean and equitable energy future. We will continue to monitor the program to ensure that solar customers, who are helping make the grid more reliable and affordable, are making a fair contribution to the CBC program.”

Utilities have been directed to file final tariffs within 30 days and the CBC charges will take effect on January 1, 2022, and will only apply to net metering customers that install solar systems after the effective date.

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