The Block Island Times

BIPCo’s net metering policy challenged by EUTG

Power Company refuses reimbursement for Harbor Baptist Church for solar production
By Stephanie Turaj | May 16, 2013

The Electric Utility Task Group (EUTG) has recommended that the Block Island Power Company (BIPCo) extend its net metering policy to include more customers.

The EUTG would like the power company to reimburse renewable energy customers who have 5 kW (kilowatt) systems that produce energy — which is the same as state regulation.

Net metering is an electricity policy for BIPCo customers that produce energy (for example, a privately-owned wind turbine). A customer is credited for generating that electricity.

Rhode Island has a net metering program for systems including solar, thermal, electric, wind energy, hydroelectric and photovoltaic.

Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission regulations state, “If the electricity generated by an eligible net metering system during a billing period is equal to or less than the net metering for a customer’s usage during the billing period for electric distribution company accounts at the eligible net metering system site, the customer shall receive net metering credits.”

However, BIPCo is exempt from these regulations.

BIPCo currently has 13 net metering customers, according to a letter by the company president Albert Casazza.

Harbor Church net metering

The EUTG recommendation comes due to the fact that BIPCo rejected Harbor Church’s net metering application for its 3.5-kilowatt solar panel system installed in December.

“Your system exceeds the 2.5 kW limit for net metering. Therefore, BIPCo cannot allow you as a net metering customer,” BIPCo president Albert Casazza said in a letter to Harbor Church.

“The net metering is relatively small part of the savings,” said Harbor Church Pastor Steve Hollaway, who said that in March, the church saved almost 38 percent of its power bill compared to last year, due to the new solar panels.

However, he said that if the net metering limit could be increased, even as a compromise to 4 kW, “we’d be thrilled.”

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