AttachmentSize PSB_Final_Order.pdf113.03 KB The PSB Order is below (the entire decision is attached): The Vermont Public Service Board rejected yesterday the application of David Blittersdorf of AllEarth Renewables (and related NRG companies) to develop in Hinesburg what would be one of the state’s largest solar energy facilities. The board concluded that together with an adjacent facility of the essentially the same size, also owned and operated by companies Blittersdorf is affiliated with, that the two would exceed the statutory limits for net metering. The two solar arrays are rated for 143.6 kW and 147.6 kW. The net metering limit is 250 kilowatts.Blittersdorf is a long-time advocate of renewable energy NRG systems in Hinesburg was an early leader in wind energy technology. AllEarth is headquartered in Williston, which develops and builds both wind turbines and solar products. It employs 23. The PSB ruling does not affect Blittersdorfs solar development in South Burlington. That $12 million project would be larger and able to power about 500 homes.Net metering refers to renewable energy generating facilities that sell their power directly back into the grid, in this case to Green Mountain Power. Blittersdorf would have to set up a parallel connection grid for the second facility to meet the board’s standards, according to the PSB order filed October 21. Blittersdorf had argued that this was an unnecessary expense. The board wrote: “We conclude that because the net metering application for the proposed project exceeds the statutory capacity limit, it does not qualify for net metering and is, accordingly, denied.” BOARD DISCUSSIONSummaryOn September 15, 2010, the Applicant filed comments in response to the HearingOfficer’s Proposal for Decision (“PFD”). The comments urge the Board to reject therecommendation of the Hearing Officer in the PFD and approve the application for a CPG (certificate of public good).On September 16, 2010, the Department filed comments in support of the HearingOfficer’s recommendation in the PFD.After considering the written comments, and based on our review of the evidence, weaccept the recommendation of the Hearing Officer in the PFD and deny the Applicant’s requestfor a CPG for the net metering project, pursuant to 30 V.S.A §§ 219a and 248.DiscussionThe Applicant argues that it would be “arbitrary and capricious” for the Board to acceptthe Hearing Officers’ recommendation “because that recommendation has no basis in thegoverning statute and Board rules.”7 The Applicant contends that the Board should be “mindfulthat the Legislature has recently directed the Board to expand the scope of the net meteringprogram” pursuant to 30 V. S.A. 219b. The Applicant acknowledges that the proposed projectwill be constructed adjacent to an existing net metering system on the Applicant’s property.However, the Applicant asserts that the Board should consider the proposed project as separatefrom the existing facility because the two facilities “will have separate meters and accounts forgroup net metering, and the group members are different.”8 The Applicant argues that neither thestatutes nor Board Rules prohibit separate facilities from being sited on the same property orrequire that group net metered projects with group members in common should be viewedcollectively with regard to capacity limits. The Applicant also contends that there is no reason tobelieve that “the proposed project might raise an issue under one or more of the conditionallywaived § 248 criteria due to its proximity to the existing facility.” Finally, the Applicant assertsthat the Board “has no statutory authority” to apply the definition of what constitutes a singlefacility with regard to SPEED projects, under 30 V.S.A. § 8002(12), to a net metered facility7. Applicant’s comments on the PFD at 1.8. Applicant’s comments at 2-3CPG #NM-991 Page 8″where it would serve only to squelch the development of net metering systems for no goodreason and contrary to legislative intent.”9The Department agrees with the Hearing Officer’s recommendation to deny the CPGapplication. The Department argues that the “decision is well reasoned and complies with thelaw and Board Rules.”10 The Department contends that while the Legislature has expanded thescope of the net metering program over time there remain “parameters in place as to what kind ofsystems will qualify as a net metered system.” The proposed facility, the Department contends,”will share infrastructure, connection to the grid, property, ownership and customers with anotherproject on the same tract of land.” Because the combined total of the two facilities exceeds thestatutory capacity limit, the Department contends, there is no need to “look to a public policyrationale, the Legislature has provided the rule and it should be followed.” Finally, theDepartment states:To allow serial projects by one owner, sharing common infrastructure, connectionto the grid, customers and land, to exceed the statutory limit would be twisting theplain meaning of the law and make the law as it stands today totally meaningless.We agree with the Hearing Officer and the Department that the proposed facility isproperly viewed as an expansion of the existing facility and not as a separate net meteringproject. The proposed project does not qualify for net metering for the fundamental reason that itwould exceed the 250 kW size limitation established in the net metering statute. As theDepartment correctly observes, to allow multiple net metering projects on the same premiseswith common infrastructure and a common interconnection would negate the statutory cap on thesize of net metering projects. To accept the Applicant’s reasoning would allow any net meteringcustomer to construct a net metering system ‘ whether a group or individual system11 ‘9. Applicant’s comments at 4.10. Department comments on the PFD at 1.11. The Applicant’s reliance on the differences in membership between the proposed and the preexistingnet metering groups is unavailing. The statutory definition of “net metering system” is the same for individualand group systems, and includes the requirement that the system “is located on the customer’s premises.”30 V.S.A. § 219a(a)(3)(D). Here, the applications for both the existing and the new projects were submittedby the same Applicant, and the new and the preexisting projects would both be located, adjacently, on theApplicant’s premises. Furthermore, it is not unusual for the output of electric generation projects to bedivided among different purchasers (for example, as with the McNeil generation facility in Burlington). Inour review of generation facilities under 30 V.S.A. § 248, allocation of output of a generation facility among anumber of purchasers would not result in a segmented review of the facility. Thus, the differences inmembership between the two net metering groups involved here are not controlling for purposes of(continued…)CPG #NM-991 Page 9unconstrained by the statutory size limitation; the customer could simply claim that the system is anumber of separate systems notwithstanding common infrastructure and interconnection facilities.Allowing such piecemeal development of a net metering system greater than 250 kW would violatethe clear statutory limitation on the size of net metering systems.We also disagree with the Applicant’s contention that denying this application will somehow”squelch” renewable energy development contrary to legislative intent. The Board has simplified theapplication process for net metered generation projects pursuant to § 219a(c). The Board has alsowaived many of the § 248 criteria that would normally apply to generation projects for net meteredgeneration facilities. The simplified review and waiver of criteria for these projects is, in large part,predicated upon the relatively small size and commensurately smaller impacts of net meteredprojects which are subject to a statutory capacity limit set by the Legislature. Allowing serialprojects that in aggregate exceed the statutory 250 kW limit to be considered as separate facilitieswould be contrary to legislative intent of § 219a. The Applicant correctly notes that no party hasshown that the project raises an issue under § 248. However, our decision is not based on thepotential adverse impacts of the project. Our decision to deny the net metering application is basedon the fact that the expanded net metering system exceeds the statutory capacity limit applicable tonet metering systems and is, therefore, not eligible to take advantage of this simplified reviewprocess. We conclude, along with the Hearing Officer, that projects that exceed the statutorycapacity limit for net metering should be reviewed under the requirements applicable to thoseprojects. If the Applicant believes that this result hinders the development of renewable energyfacilities in Vermont, the proper avenue for relief is to seek legislative amendment to the statutorylimitation.As for the Applicant’s contention that the Hearing Officer has inappropriately applied to thisnet metering project a definition from the SPEED statute, the Applicant misreads the PFD. The PFDexplicitly acknowledges that the SPEED statute does not directly apply, but notes that therecommended decision is consistent with the statutory definitions contained in § 8002(12) thatgovern essentially the same types of renewable energy facilities as those encompassed within netmetering projects under § 219a(a)(3). Consistency between statutory provisions that address similarregulatory programs is a desirable and not inappropriate outcome, and thus we see no error by theHearing Officer.11. (…continued)determining whether the proposed project is a separate net metering system.CPG #NM-991 Page 10Finally, contrary to the Applicant’s claim, we have in fact implemented the legislativedirective of 30 V.S.A. § 219b. In 2007, pursuant to § 219b, the Board revised Rule 5.100 to expandthe scope of the net metering program. The Rule was subsequently amended 12 in 2009 to furtherexpand the scope of the program consistent with statutory revisions. While Board Rule 5.100 hasbeen revised to expand the scope of the net metering program, it has not been modified (nor could ithave been) to allow net metering projects that exceed the statutory 250 kW limitation.Based on all of the above, we conclude that because the net metering application for theproposed project exceeds the statutory capacity limit, it does not qualify for net metering and is,accordingly, denied.V. ORDERIT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED by the Public Service Board of the Stateof Vermont that:1. The Findings, Conclusion and recommendation of the Hearing Officer are adopted.2. The net metering application submitted by David Blittersdorf, on May 6, 2010, is denied.12.