Connecticut Public Utility Authority Approves Grandfathering of Net Metering After Feed-In Tariff Approval and Encourages Year 8 LREC/ZREC
On September 19, 2018, the Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) issued a declaratory ruling requested by Solar Connecticut, Inc. that existing net-metering rules would continue for existing distributed generation projects after the approval of the Connecticut feed-in tariff which is expected in 2019 or 2020. In addition, PURA put into motion a timeframe which encourages a Year 8 LREC/ZREC program in 2019.
During the last legislative session, the Connecticut legislature eliminated Connecticut’s LREC/ZREC program in favor of a feed-in tariff for distributed generation projects (solar, wind, fuel cells) under 2 MW. The controversial law extended Connecticut’s LREC/ZREC program for two years (Year 7 and Year 8) but required that these extensions be cut short if PURA approves the feed-in tariff prior to contracts for the funds being executed. In addition, the legislation left unclear whether existing net metering rules would be grandfathered for existing LREC/ZREC projects (the legislation was clear that existing net metering rules continued for existing residential projects).
Pullman & Comley represented Solar Connecticut in this matter and requested a declaratory ruling from PURA that all projects that have been awarded a LREC/ZREC contract would continue to receive the benefits of the contracts after the feed-in tariff was approved and that existing net metering rules would be grandfathered for these projects.
In a significant victory for users of distributed generation and the renewable energy industry, PURA has agreed that all existing LREC/ZREC contracts would remain in force and project owners would receive the benefits under those contracts for the duration of the contracts (including the Year 5, 6, 7, and 8 projects that have not yet been built). PURA also agreed that existing net metering rules would continue to be in effect until 2039 for all projects receiving the benefits of the LREC/ZREC contracts. In a final nod to the importance of limiting the disruption to project developers, PURA is requiring Eversource and UI to develop a plan for finalizing the Year 7 LREC/ZREC procurement in early 2019 and conducting the Year 8 program prior to the approval of the feed-in tariff by PURA.
“We couldn’t possibly navigate this process on our own, or have achieved the kind of successes that we have without the dual benefit of counsel that both know our industry and the regulatory process.” - Mike Trahan, Executive Director, Solar Connecticut.