New York state will consolidate billing for community solar customers

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The New York Public Service Commission yesterday adopted a measure to consolidate the utility bills of community distributed generation (CDG) customers. Consolidated billing will lower consumer costs of CDG, improve the overall customer experience and reduce CDG sponsor costs. Moreover, the consolidated billing approach will reduce market barriers which have impeded development of CDG in many circumstances. Facilitating the ease of enrollment and payment will further encourage solar and other clean energy developers to focus on New York.

“We need all smart cost-effective clean energy resources in order to deliver on Governor Cuomo’s objective of 70% clean and renewable energy in New York by 2030, including distributed clean energy,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “Today’s decision takes the next step in accelerating this by meaningfully lowering the cost of community distributed generation so as to benefit New York’s customers.”

CDG systems, such as community solar, offer customers that prefer not to install solar directly on their property, or who face economic or geographic barriers to doing so, the opportunity to lower their electric bills using clean renewable energy. Consolidated billing represents an important opportunity to simplify the subscription process while reducing soft costs associated with CDG. It is also more convenient for CDG customers as they will no longer have to receive two separate monthly bills — one from their utility company and a separate one from the solar developer. Currently, while the credits for renewable energy appear directly on the CDG subscribers’ utility bills, the CDG sponsor must also send the customer a separate bill for the subscription charge and have systems in place to collect that charge. Under consolidated billing, the subscription charges will be automatically deducted from the renewable energy credits by the utility and sent to the CDG sponsor, based on a percentage set by the CDG sponsor. As this percentage must be below 95%, CDG members participating in consolidated billing will receive a guaranteed bill reduction, and therefore guaranteed monthly savings, of at least 5%. The adoption of consolidated billing will also enable consumers to see the benefits of their subscription all in one place.

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The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) issued the following statement:

“Our organizations thank the New York Public Service Commission for launching this important proceeding and embracing optional streamlined billing to improve access to solar for all. We have advocated for — and welcome — optional consolidated billing approaches that provide direct and equitable benefits to community solar customers and community solar providers, and that can help the state achieve its clean energy and equity goals by enabling more community solar development at lower cost.”

“If implemented properly at a reasonable cost, streamlined billing has the potential to enhance customer experience for those who prefer a single bill and remove barriers to community solar participation, especially for low-income customers. Consolidated billing also has the potential to reduce soft costs associated with community solar project development and operations,” said Erika Niedowski, northeast director for CCSA.

“NYSEIA applauds the Public Service Commission’s decision to order voluntary consolidated billing for Community Distributed Generation (CDG), which we believe will play a crucial role in reducing soft costs associated with this segment, improve the CDG customer experience, and help accelerate the buildout of CDG projects and renewable energy in New York. We look forward to working with the Commission and the utilities of New York on the implementation of CDG consolidated billing in the months ahead,” said NYSEIA Executive Director Shyam Mehta.

“Streamlined billing can provide a big boost to community solar programs and greatly improve the customer experience,” said David Gahl, senior director of state affairs, northeast at SEIA. “We commend the New York Public Service Commission for taking action and prioritizing solar accessibility for all customers, especially low- to moderate-income New Yorkers who can greatly benefit from solar energy.”

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News item from NYPSC


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