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Published on February 20th, 2014 | by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC)


Northeast Utilities (NU) Opposes Solar To Protect Profits

February 20th, 2014 by  

rooftop solar massachusetts

Last week, Northeast Utilities (NU) in Massachusetts opposed a plan that would bring economic growth to the state while boosting use of cleaner and more efficient solar energy. Solar delivers a financial benefit to all ratepayers, but NU doesn’t like it because it prefers investing in large transmission and gas projects to increase their profits.

For example, a recent NU Analyst Day presentation shows that from 2014-2017, NU has $990 million in transmission projects planned. Ratepayers will foot the bill for these projects while the utility gets a financial return. At the same time, solar is only 0.33 percent of NU’s generation fleet. And while the utility does indicate that it is seeking to import 1,200 MW of hydro power from outside the US, that’s only if it can build a $1.4 billion transmission line at the expense of ratepayers. NU projects that transmission—in other words, increasing rates to build more infrastructure—will be about 50% of its consolidated earnings growth through 2015.

NU fears ratepayers going solar because it reduces the need to build expensive transmission lines. For the first time, ratepayers have an alternative to the status quo, and NU has real competition. This new competition is good for consumers because it pushes costs down, spurs innovation and offers energy choice. At the same time, it’s a threat to the NU monopoly that is accustomed to dictating both prices and service to its captive customers.

NU should not mislead consumers about solar just because it fears competition. If Northeast Utilities is going to attack solar, TASC asks that the monopoly at least admit to its motivation—profit protection.

Rooftop solar image via Shutterstock

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About the Author

advocates for maintaining successful distributed solar energy policies, such as retail net metering, throughout the United States. Retail net metering (NEM) provides fair credit to residents, businesses, churches, schools, and other public agencies when their solar systems export excess energy to the grid. The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) was formed on the belief that anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power, and realize the financial benefits therein. The rooftop solar market has been largely driven by Americans’ desire to assert control over their electric bills, a trend that should be encouraged.

  • setb

    Time to change this old system.

  • Omega Centauri

    If you look a bit longer term, and wish to push the total renewables penetration high (well above 50%), then transmission lines to nonlocal hydro would be very valuable. Perhaps, despite themselves, they are doing the right thing. The solar will come, it just might take a bit longer. But if the transmission lines to dispatchable hydro are there, the ability of the grid to support high levels of wind/sun goes up.

  • jdeely

    Get on board or get out of the way.

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