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Energetic start to new year: Laws that broaden 'net metering' take effect today

Jan 1, 2008 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Larry Rulison - The Manila Times

New state laws that allow businesses to sell renewable energy they generate back to their utility take effect today.

For many years, New York state has had a so-called "net metering" law that allowed residential customers to sell solar or wind energy they produced back to a utility.

Now, in a victory for the renewable energy industry -- since the commercial market has much more potential -- businesses will be able to do the same. In addition to wind and solar, the legislation also covers farm-waste energy technology.

Gov. David Paterson signed the laws in August after striking a deal with the utilities to put caps in place limiting the size of the systems.

For instance, a solar system at a business cannot have a rated capacity of more than 2 megawatts. That is designed to ensure that businesses do not get into the power-generation business and compete with utilities.

Under net metering, customers get a credit from the utility on their energy bills.

The new laws are expected to be of most benefit to the renewable energy markets, which will be able to sell more solar and wind power equipment if more businesses decided to hook up to the grid.

Carol Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, an Albany group that promotes renewable energy use in the state, said Wednesday that despite the bad economy and lower energy prices, an uptick is expected for solar and wind systems distributors and installers.

By generating their own electricity, businesses can better predict their energy costs, she said, a valuable business planning tool.

"They want to have a handle on what their costs will be," Murphy said.

The state also is offering financial incentives to companies that buy equipment to interconnect to the utility.

"That makes a big difference," Murphy said.


Updated: 2003/07/28