Excerpt from “Bill would raise limit on solar power by 25 MW, push for new rules on pricing” by DAVID BROOKS, published in the Concord Monitor
Solar power is becoming so popular that New Hampshire needs to redesign its pricing system for electricity generation to avoid harming other customers – but until that happens, easing limits on how much solar power is sold back to utilities will help keep the industry operating in the state.
That was the general consensus, although far from the universal opinion, at a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would raise the cap on what is known as net metered electricity from 50 to 75 megawatts statewide.
The net metering cap was set several years ago when solar power was much less popular but a surge in development over the past year fueled by new types of financing and lower costs has pushed New Hampshire Electric Cooperative past its cap, while the three investor-owned utilities in New Hampshire are close to, or already at, their limits.
The cap does not prevent solar installations, but can prevent net metering, which lets panel owners sell excess electricity produced on sunny days back to the utility at set rates.
Without net metering, solar power becomes much more expensive, roughly doubling the time period it takes for a home installation to cover its costs via lower electricity bills, according to testimony before the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.