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New England Ratepayers Association’s Stance on Full Net Metering Gains Support

Daily Energy Insider quotes CEI Senior Fellows Marlo Lewis and Ben Lieberman regarding the NERA's stance on retail net metering:

NERA in April filed a petition requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “declare that there is exclusive federal jurisdiction over wholesale energy sales from generation sources located on the customer side of the retail meter.” NERA also wants FERC to order that the rates fall under federal purview, contrary to the current standard that places these programs under state authority.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a public policy organization that advocates for free markets and limited government, supports NERA’s stance and specifically asked FERC to exercise its jurisdiction over wholesale electricity sales to eliminate unlawful ratepayer subsidies to distributed generation from rooftop solar units, according to its filing.

“We are particularly concerned about government interventions in the marketplace that may potentially result in serious harm to consumers, are fundamentally unfair, or exceed the legal authority of federal or state agencies,” wrote CEI Senior Fellows Marlo Lewis and Ben Lieberman.

Retail net metering also is unlawful under the Federal Power Act and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), according to CEI.

“FERC has jurisdiction over electric transmission and wholesale power sales in interstate commerce, not retail sales within state boundaries,” according to CEI’s filing. “Because utilities compensate NEM [net energy metering] participants at retail prices, the transactions appear to fall within the jurisdiction of state legislatures and public utility commissions.”

But, CEI added that compensating wholesale sales at retail prices does not change the nature of the transaction. “NERA correctly argues that the sale of electricity from a homeowner to a utility, which in turn resells the electricity to other customers, is, by definition, a wholesale sale,” according to its filing. “Thus, such sales are within FERC’s regulatory jurisdiction.”

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