Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Cleans Up Net Metering Regulations

by Foley Hoag LLP - Energy and Cleantech

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued an Order, D.P.U. 11-11-E, that addresses several controversies that had arisen out of its Order, D.P.U. 11-11-C, issued last summer.  Although the Order in 11-11-E does not go as far as some commenters sought, it is a win for net metering customers and developers relative to the status quo.  It allows for more flexible project designs to meet the demands of unique sites, and it clarifies that net metering generation need not be routed through existing meters to comply with the Department’s regulations – an interpretation adopted by at least one utility that had frustrated several net metering projects.

The D.P.U. 11-11-E Order is the latest in a series of efforts to bring clarity to Massachusetts’ net metering policies.  In D.P.U. 11-11-C, the Department attempted to clarify its net metering regulations by defining the statutory terms “facility” and “unit”.  Significantly, the Department adopted a three part definition of “facility” – “the energy generating equipment associated with a single parcel of land, interconnected with the electric distribution system at a single point, behind a single meter” – and required that each facility meat each criterion.  That definition was controversial.  It deviated from the established practices of NSTAR and National Grid, resulted in disruption to net metering projects in development, and created new areas of uncertainty and controversy.  Yesterday’s Order takes several significant steps towards resolving those uncertainties and controversies.

  1. The Department agreed that a rigid interpretation of its definition of facility could prevent optimal interconnection to the grid for some net metering projects, which for safety or efficiency reasons would be better served by multiple interconnection points and multiple meters.  Accordingly, the Department will now allow the distribution companies to grant exceptions to the definition of facility for projects seeking multiple interconnection points/multiple meters where doing so is “the most cost-effective solution with no effect on the electrical safety, electrical reliability, or electrical efficiency of a facility’s interconnection.”  This change, which will hopefully be interpreted consistently and transparently by the distribution companies, should avoid forcing project developers and host customers to contort their projects in functionally meaningless, and potentially costly, ways in order to comply with the letter of the Department’s three part definition.
  2. The Department rejected an interpretation of its definition of “facility”, adopted by at least one distribution company, that had required new net metering projects to connect behind existing meters even if there was no engineering rationale for doing so and even if doing so increased the costs of interconnecting the facility.  The Department quickly dismissed the encumbering interpretation: “Our adoption of [the single parcel, single interconnection point, single meter] rule for a net metering facility . . . did not impose a new limit on a customer’s interconnection points or points of common coupling for any non-net metering purposes, nor did it prohibit customers from establishing a new point of common coupling at which to interconnect a net metering facility.”  The now-rejected interpretation had held up several net metering projects; this Order will prevent future projects from facing the same hurdle.
  3. The Department clarified that a customer may not obtain net metering services for a portion of a generating facility when the total capacity of that facility exceeds the applicable cap for that customer.
  4. Recognizing that a facility’s net metering eligibility should be determined by the distribution company early on in the development process, the Department ordered the distribution companies to file a plan within 30 days of the Order for communicating eligibility to developers as early in the process as possible.

These clarifications, particularly the first two, were necessary to address the unintended consequences of 11-11-C and to provide certainty to project developers and host customers.  With this Order, the Department seems to have addressed the most pressing issues raised by 11-11-C, although it remains to be seen how the distribution company administered exception process will play out in practice.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Foley Hoag LLP - Energy and Cleantech | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Foley Hoag LLP - Energy and Cleantech

Foley Hoag LLP - Energy and Cleantech on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.