NOTE: In December 15, 2014 the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order directing the investor owned utilities in the State to file net metering tariff revisions doubling the aggregate net metering cap from 3% to 6% of the utility's 2005 peak demand. The order will be effective on January 2, 2015.
Net metering is available on a first-come, first-served basis to customers of the state's major investor-owned utilities, subject to technology, system size and aggregate capacity limitations. Publicly-owned utilities are not obligated to offer net metering; however, PSEG Long Island offers net metering on terms similar to those in the state law. Below is listing of the system size limitations, organized by technology and eligible sector.
- Solar: 25 kW for residential, 100 kW for farms, 2 MW for non-residential
- Wind: 25 kW for residential, 500 kW for farm-based, and 2 MW for non-residential
- Fuel Cells: 10 kW for residential, 1.5 MW for non-residential
- Micro-hydroelectric: 25 kW for residential, 2 MW for non-residential
- Biogas: 1 MW (farm-based only)
- Micro-CHP: 10 kW (residential only)
The aggregate limit on net-metered PV, on-farm biogas systems, micro-CHP, fuel cell, and micro-hydroelectric systems combined is currently generally set at 6.0% of a utility's 2005 electric demand, while the limit on aggregate wind system capacity is 0.3% of 2005 demand. The aggregate limit was previously set at 1.0%, which was tripled by PSC in October 2012, and again recently increased to 6% in 2014.
Net Excess Generation
For most types of systems, customer net excess generation (NEG) in a given month is credited to the customer's next bill at the utility's retail rate. However, for residential micro-CHP and fuel cell systems NEG is credited at the utility's avoided cost rate. A slightly different methodology using a monetary credit ($ as opposed to kWh) is used for customers on demand meters. At the end of each annual billing cycle, most customers (i.e., residential PV and wind and farm-based wind and biogas systems) will be paid at the utility's avoided-cost rate for any unused NEG. Compensation for unused NEG produced by non-residential wind and solar systems is not addressed by the statute, however, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) determined in its February 2009 order that unused NEG for such systems should be carried forward from one year to the next. Likewise, residential micro-CHP and fuel cell customer-generators are not permitted to monetize NEG after a year or any other period, but may carry forward unused credits indefinitely. Recently enacted S.B. 1149 did not identify a specific annual reconciliation protocol for micro-hydroelectric facilities, but the recently approved utility tariffs provide for indefinite carryover.
In May 2011 the PSC issued an order addressing two aspects of the NEG crediting process for customer generators. First, the order requires utilities to adopt consistent NEG credit calculations that include all kWh-based customer charges beginning June 1, 2011. Prior to this, some utilities did not include certain charges (e.g., the System Benefits Charge (SBC) and Renewables Portfolio Standards (RPS) surcharge) in the calculation of NEG credits. Second, the order also requires utilities to allow customers eligible for an annual cash-out of unused NEG at avoided cost, such as residential solar customers, to make a one-time selection of the annual period in question. This provision will apply to both existing and new net metering customers and is intended to avoid circumstances where the time period used for the annual cash-out is disadvantageous for some customers (i.e., large amounts of NEG being cashed-out at a lower rate). Several utilities already permitted customer-generators to make such an election.
Remote Net Metering
In June 2011 the state enacted legislation (A.B. 6270) allowing eligible farm-based and non-residential customer-generators to engage in "remote" net metering of solar, wind, and farm-based biogas systems. Micro-hydroelectric facilities were added as eligible for this arrangement in August 2012. The law permits eligible customer-generators to designate net metering credits from equipment located on property which they own or lease to any other meter that is located on property owned or leased by the customer, and is within the same utility territory and load zone as the net metered facility. Credits will accrue to the highest use meter first, and as with standard net metering, excess credits may be carried forward from month to month. Revised utility tariffs incorporating this change for solar, wind, and farm-based biogas systems became effective December 1, 2011. The August 2012 extension to micro-hydroelectric customer-generators will require further tariff revisions.
The legislation and subsequent PSC orders also establish rules relating to customer responsibility for interconnection costs (e.g., new meters, transformers, or other equipment) and limitations on such costs. Cost treatments vary by customer type and system size (see § 66-j and 66-l for details). The ownership of renewable energy credits (RECs) and other environmental attributes associated with energy production from net metered systems remains unaddressed.
New York's original net-metering law, enacted in 1997, applied only to residential photovoltaic (PV) systems up to 10 kilowatts (kW). In 2002, the law was expanded (S.B. 6592) to include farm-based biogas systems of up to 400 kW (increased to 500 kW in 2008) that generate electricity from biogas produced by the anaerobic digestion of agricultural waste, such as livestock manure, farming waste and food-processing wastes. In 2004, S.B 4890-E (of 2003) further expanded the law to include residential wind turbines up to 25 kW and farm-based wind turbines up to 125 kW.
In August 2008 New York enacted a series of bills (S.B. 7171, S.B. 8415, and S.B. 8481) again amending the state's net metering laws, most notably extending net metering eligibility to non-residential PV and wind systems. In February 2009 the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order revising and approving several utility tariffs associated with these changes. A second order issued in June 2009 addressed further tariff filings and ordered changes to these and some previously filed tariffs. In August 2009 A.B. 2442 amended the law yet again to allow net metering for residential combined heat and power (CHP) and fuel cell systems of 10 kW or less, with utility tariffs approved in February 2010. Further legislation (A.B. 7987) enacted in August 2010 increased the capacity limit for farm-based biogas systems from 500 kW to 1 MW and revised tariffs were approved in December 2010.
Prior to the 2008 amendments, PV systems, farm biogas systems and small wind systems (10 kW and less) with customer net excess generation (NEG) for a given month had it credited to the their next bill at the utility's retail rate. At the end of each annual billing cycle, such customers were paid at the utility's avoided-cost rate for any unused NEG. However, NEG from wind-energy systems larger than 10 kW was credited to the next month’s bill at the state's avoided-cost rate. Large wind energy systems also received compensation for annual NEG at the avoided-cost rate.