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Utility Eversource Seeks To Offer Community Solar Program

Surplus Generation Purchases To Be Recovered Through Default Service Rates; Other Costs Via Distribution Rates

June 4, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy petitioned the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission for approval of a proposed "Clean Innovation Community Solar" pilot program for low and moderate income ("LMI") customers.

Under the program, Eversource would provide bill credits to Electric Assistance Program ("EAP") customers within specified zip codes of shared solar facilities selected via RFP. EAP customers would not have to enroll into the program; the provision of credits would be automatic.

"By having Eversource identify and manage the customers within that group, the Company would be relieving the developer of the burden of recruiting eligible LMI customers to participate," Eversource said

EAP customers in the program would receive bill credits based on the surplus generation of the facility and a "generation adjustment" identified by the host

The generation adjustment is an amount per kWh that will be deducted from the default service rate to determine payment for surplus generation to the host. For example, if the applicable default service rate were 10 cents per kWh in a billing cycle and the generation adjustment were 1 cent per kWh, Eversource would provide payment to the host for surplus generation during that billing cycle at 9 cents per kWh (10 minus 1).

The application of the generation adjustment is intended to produce a payment for surplus generation that replicates the net revenues a group host would receive after it shared proceeds from the distribution company for surplus generation with group members, Eversource said. The generation adjustment will be identified by participating hosts in their application for the Clean Innovation Community Solar pilot and will remain fixed for the duration of their participation in the pilot.

The customer credit will be a dollar amount credited on the bills of EAP customers in communities identified by the host. It will be based upon the generation adjustment for a solar facility and its surplus generation. The customer credit will be calculated by multiplying surplus generation by the generation adjustment and dividing that total by the number of bills to be issued to EAP customers each billing cycle in the communities served by a solar facility

Eversource would assume the burden of actually calculating and providing credits on the electric bills of EAP customers

Eversource will not assess any charges to EAP customers in connection with their participation in the program and the host customer or any other entity will be prohibited from seeking payments from participating EAP customers.

Selected participants will be eligible to receive payment for surplus generation pursuant to the proposed mechanism for a term of 10 years from the start of commercial operation of participating facilities. EAP customers will receive the customer credit or a comparable benefit for the same 10-year term

Under the pilot, Eversource is proposing to select community solar projects totaling up to 20 MW of generation.

Eversource expects that a 20 MW program could support customer credits for as many as 4,000 EAP customers or nearly 20 percent of all current EAP customers.

Eversource proposes to permit projects up to 5 MW to participate in the pilot (larger than the current 1.0 MW cap on net metered facilities)

Eversource would use a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process to solicit solar developers willing to build solar generation projects benefitting LMI customers.

Eversource said that compensation it will pay for surplus generation is estimated to be $38 million over the ten-year term of the program. Compensation for surplus generation is based upon the estimated output of 20 MW of solar generation capacity and the Company’s current default energy service rate of 9.985 cents per kWh plus additional compensation for low-income community solar projects authorized by SB 165 (SB 165 directs that such facilities be provided an additional 3 cents per kWh from July 1, 2019 through July 1, 2021 and an additional 2.5 cents per kWh thereafter). Compensation for surplus generation includes $6.0 million in estimated credit to be transferred to EAP customers through the proposed sharing mechanism.

"The Company proposes to recover payments for surplus generation through the same mechanism that it recovers other net metering credits and payments. At this time net metering credits and payments are treated as energy purchases and recovered through the Company’s default energy service charge, so the Company would similarly recover costs associated with surplus generation of pilot participants," Eversource said

Other costs related to the pilot, estimated at $5 million, would be recovered via distribution rates. Specifically, costs related to various billing system modifications, consultants, customer education and outreach, and incremental staff would be recovered via the Distribution Rate Adjustment Mechanism (DRAM) proposed in Eversource's pending base distribution rate case.

Docket DE 19-104

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