NOTE: HB 8354/SB 2450 omnibus renewable energy bill enacted on June 2016 amended the net metering statute in the Rhode Island to i) establish community virtual net metering, ii) increase system size capacity from 5 MW to 10 MW, iii) allow third party owned systems to be eligible for net metering, and other programmatic changes.
Rhode Island allows net metering for systems up to ten megawatts (MW) in capacity that are designed to generate up to 100% of the electricity that a home or other facility uses. The net metered systems size must be sized to produce no more than an average of previous or forecasted three years of annual consumption of the energy at the account. Systems that generate electricity using solar energy, wind energy, ocean-thermal energy, geothermal energy, small hydropower, biogas from anaerobic digestion, or fuel cells using any of these energy sources are eligible. All customers of electric distribution companies including public entities of the state are eligible. The aggregate amount of net-metered systems in Block Island Power Company and Pascoag Utility District is capped at 3% of the peak load for each utility district. In 2014, the aggregate cap for net metering for National Grid was eliminated. Net metered systems may be owned by the customer or by a third party.
Net Excess Generation:
The rate credited for kilowatt-hours (kWh) generated that do not exceed the customer's kWh consumption for that billing period is equal to the utility's retail rate (minus a very small conservation charge per kWh). Any excess kWh generation that exceeds 100% but limited up to 125% of the net-metering customers usage during the billing period will be paid excess renewable net-metering credits which is equal to the utilities avoided cost rate, unless the utility and the consumer have agreed to a different plan. The excess credit may be carried forward to the next bill or purchased by the utility (at its discretion). To facilitate the administration of billing, utilities may estimate a net-metered customer's generation and consumption over a 12-month period. Otherwise, the rates (including customer charges and demand charges) that apply to a net-metered customer must be the same rates that would apply if the same customer were not net metering. Utilities may not impose any other charges on the net-metered customers. Net-metered customers are exempt from backup or standby rates commensurate with the size of the net-metered system. Utilities may recover through rates any revenue shortfall caused by this exemption.
A system generally must be owned by the customer of record and sited on the customer's premises (in the same geographic location). However, facilities (1) owned by public entity* or multi-municipal collaborative or (2) owned and operated by a developer on behalf of the public entity or multi-municipal collaborative through “public entity net metering financing arrangement”** are also eligible. Meter aggregation is generally allowed, and special provisions exist to accommodate meter aggregation for farm-based systems that serve facilities in close proximity to each other.
Community Remote Net Metering:
H.B. 8354 enacted on June 2016 authorizes community net metering in the state. The community remote net metering system is defined as a facility using eligible net metered resource that allocates net metering credits to minimum of one account for low or moderate housing recipients accounts, or at least three eligible credit recipient customer accounts, providing that no more than 50% of the credits from the system are allocated to any single recipient, and at least 50% of credits are allocated to other recipients in an amount not to exceed which is produced by annually by a 25 kW system. For instance, if a community net metering system of 250kW assigns to 125 KW to one account, then the remaining 125 kW capacity should be distributed to remaining accounts at more than 25 kW.
The community net metered systems can be owned by one of the participating customers, or by a third party. The total amount of community net metering is capped at 30 MW until the end of 2018, after which the PUC may decide to expand or modify the aggregate amount after administrative process.
Rate Design and Cost Allocation study
S.B.0081 enacted on June 2015 requires the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to consider rate design and distribution cost allocation among rate classes taking into account the effects of net metering and increasing distributed energy resources. The PUC in effect, established a Docket 4545 and required the electric utilities are required to file revenue-neutral allocated cost of service study of all rate classes and propose new rates for all customers in each rate class. On January 2016, the PUC approved National Grid’s request to withdraw their proposed rate change filing determining that no rate revision was required at this time. The PUC however, determined that it was important to continue to review the issues raised in the proceeding, including rate design, net metering, and effects of distributed generation on the grid. The proceeding can be accessed at Docket 4600.
*A "public entity" is defined as the municipalities, wastewater treatment facilities, public transit agencies or any water distributing plant or system.
**A "public entity net metering financing arrangement" is defined as an arrangement between a public entity or multi-municipal collaborative and a private entity to facilitate the financing and operation of a net-metered system. Such systems are owned and operated by the private entity and must be located on property owned or controlled by the public entity or one of the municipalities.