Thursday, April 23, 2015

PUC Seeks Comments On Changes To Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Regulations

The Public Utility Commission Thursday issued for comment revisions to a proposed rulemaking that would amend certain regulations of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004 pertaining to net metering, interconnection and compliance provisions.
The Commission voted 5-0 to adopt the proposed Advanced Notice of Final Rulemaking Order and to receive comments on the proposed changes to existing regulations.
Among other things, the proposed revisions would increase certain reporting requirements and strengthen enforcement measures; revise interconnection and net metering rules; and clarify Commission procedures and standards for certifications and verification of compliance with the Act.
The AEPS Act, which became effective on February 28, 2005, was amended on two previous occasions through Act 135 of 2007 and Act 129 of 2008.
On February 20, 2014, the Commission issued for comment a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The proposed rulemaking was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on July 5, 2014, and the 30-day comment period was extended to September 3, 2014.
Based on public comments received, Commission staff revised and clarified the proposed rulemaking in several capacities before finalizing the Advanced Notice of Final Rulemaking Order.
The Commission seeks additional comments on these revisions, which include:
— An increase in the proposed system design limit of a new customer-generator, from 110 percent to 200 percent of historical (or estimated, for new construction) annual consumption;
— A revised definition of “customer-generator” and an added definition of “utility” to clarify that the definition applies to electric utilities, suppliers and merchant generators – and that non-electric utilities are excluded from the ban of utilities qualifying as a customer-generator;
— A shortened response time for a net metering applicant to receive a determination from the PUC;
— A revised definition of “alternative energy sources” to reflect the amendments to the definition for “low-impact hydropower” and “biomass facilities” from Act 129; and
— Added definitions for “grid emergencies” and “microgrid” in the context of the qualifications required of a customer-generator.
Commissioner James H. Cawley issued a statement regarding the proposed increase from 110 percent to 200 percent for the generation design limit for new alternative energy systems.
“Choosing between 110 and 200 percent appears to be largely driven by a review of the output of existing customer-generator systems. On the one hand, a higher percentage provides greater flexibility to early adopters of these distributed generation (DG) systems,” said Commissioner Cawley in his statement. “Conversely, when and if DG systems become more commonplace, these early, higher-volume DG systems may crowd out future DG systems if local distribution system constraints either make future net-meter interconnect applications impossible or more costly to accommodate … I welcome further comments on what the optimal solution is regarding this issue.”
Commissioner Cawley also solicited supplemental comments on the need for further future changes on customer-generator interconnection regulations related to smart inverters.
Written comments referencing the docket number of the proposed rulemaking are due within 20 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to the Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary, P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265.
The AEPS Act requires that a certain percentage of all electric energy sold to retail customers within the Commonwealth be derived from alternative energy sources. By 2021, electric distribution companies (EDCs) and electric generation suppliers must supply 18 percent of electricity using alternative energy resources.
The percentage of Tier I, Tier II and solar photovoltaic resources gradually increases over this period. The Act applies to both EDCs and EGSs, who must demonstrate their compliance on an annual basis.
For more information, visit the PUC’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards webpage.

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