Massachusetts is currently considering extending its net-metering qualification guidelines to include small hydroelectric projects over 60 kW in capacity, in addition to those under 60 kW — which would put hydroelectric on level ground with solar energy, wind energy, and anaerobic digestion systems in the state.
As it stands now, solar, wind, and anaerobic digestion systems up to 2 MW in size are currently eligible for net metering (and up to 10 MW in size are eligible in cases of specific public facilities). So, allowing small hydro plants up to 2 MW in size to benefit from net metering would really just level the playing field some.
The potential change was publicly put out there via a recent notice issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities informing the public of a technical conference to study proposed net electricity metering by small hydroelectric projects. This conference was held on November 7, with comments set to be filed by December 5.
Renewable Energy World provides more details:
Net metering allows customers to receive credits for any electricity they generate but do not use. Facilities up to 2 MW, or 10 MW in cases of certain public facilities, are eligible for net metering if they generate electricity with wind, solar photovoltaics or anaerobic digestion, or if they are Agricultural New Metering Facilities. Under current rules, hydroelectric facilities that are larger than 60 kW and are not ANMFs are not eligible for net metering.
Legislation signed in August by Governor Deval Patrick directs the DPU, in consultation with the Bay State Hydropower Association, to study the feasibility, impacts and benefits of allowing electric distribution company customers to net meter electricity generated by small hydroelectric facilities. The agency is to report its findings to the Legislature.
Owing to this, the DPU issued notice on October 16th of the scheduling of a technical conference at 10am November 7 at DPU offices at 1 South Station in Boston. The notice also noted that written comments had to be filed by 5pm, Eastern time, on December 5 — addressed to Mark Marini, Secretary, Department of Public Utilities, 1 South Station, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02110, or by e-mail attachment to email@example.com and to the hearing officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DPU’s request was for comments addressing how to define what exactly “small hydro” is; under which conditions to allow hydro faculties to receive net-metering; and “how much hydropower capacity might be added if small facilities were eligible for net metering.”
Image Credit: Micro hydro diagram by Practical Action