Massachusetts Wind, Solar Generators Escape Standby Charge

August 01, 2004

The Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) issued an order that approves a settlement with NSTAR, the state's largest electric and gas utility, to exempt renewable facilities from standby charges.

NSTAR had proposed stiff standby rates for all new distributed generation facilities in its service territory to recover costs associated with ensuring electricity service would be available if needed, even if the facility would not typically rely on the grid.

Two representatives of the American Wind Energy Association testified before the DTE as experts. Both argued that renewable generation should be exempt from the standby charge because the high fees created a large barrier for renewable development. As part of the settlement, NSTAR agreed to exempt renewables from the standby rates.

In approving the settlement, the DTE stated, "The Department notes that such an exemption will likely result in an increase in the number of distributed generation facilities using renewable energy technologies in NSTAR Electric's service territory. This exemption could also serve to increase fuel diversity, as well as encourage the development of new renewable energy projects that could make more renewable energy credits available to retail electric suppliers . . . The settlement's benign attitude towards development and deployment of renewable energy technologies is consonant with the public policy established by the General Court."

Source: August 6 edition of Wind Energy Weekly.