As a result of advocacy efforts by SEBANE member companies, coalition partners, and other solar companies in the Commonwealth, National Grid announced today that the company is modifying its policy for siting SMART meters in Massachusetts. This modification will also broadly apply to distributed energy resources in National Grid territory in New York and Rhode Island.
National Grid had previously required that the dedicated SMART meter be located adjacent to the customer’s existing service meter. Starting today, National Grid will accept applications for projects that site meters at the SMART project’s inverter, which may be located far from the service meter. Following National Electric Code requirements, installers can place a placard indicating the location of the solar equipment, including the SMART meter, next to the service meter.
We’ve heard from many of our member companies that meter location restrictions have been a serious obstacle across all utility territories, often holding up several SMART projects from proceeding. As a SEBANE member wrote to their state senator, following the previous net metering requirements would require one solar customer to dig a 150 foot trench through their yard to install an extra meter socket, costing an additional $2,100 not anticipated at the start of the project.
Such a case is not unique. Member company PV Squared sounded the official wakeup call by filing a formal request for a dispute resolution with the MA DPU earlier this month. PV Squared had several jobs on hold and decided to follow the official dispute resolution process with National Grid, meeting in person to talk over the issue and consider a solution.
Bill Stillinger, co-owner of PV Squared Solar, said “This issue needed to be addressed right away, not waiting for the SMART program’s 400 MW review. Approaching this issue in a constructive way, not being adversarial, helped us greatly in our dispute discussions with National Grid people. Generally, face-to-face meeting is the most efficient and effective way to communicate when the subject is technical.”
SEBANE wishes to thank all of our members and partners who initiated discussion and action around this issue. Special thanks to PV Squared, Berkshire Photovoltaic Systems, Avid Solar, Rayah Solar, and MassSolar for their continued activism. Find the full text of National Grid’s announcement here.