volume 67 - issue 11 - November 2017
Community Solar project update
In the March 2017 issue of the Cooperative Review we explained the steps SMECO has taken to pursue the lawful advancement of Community Solar in Southern Maryland. While SMECO is an enthusiastic supporter of renewable energy, we also want the energy rates our customer-members pay to be equitable.
Your cooperative works hard to keep rates as low as possible by managing a power portfolio that includes long-term and short-term contracts for peak load and base load, as well as wind and solar energy. But, when the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) adopted Community Solar regulations that could increase the energy rate SMECO should pay, we petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to weigh in. SMECO believes that some of the PSC’s Community Solar regulations conflict with federal law, which authorizes FERC to regulate wholesale energy rates, and we offered easy fixes.
The PSC held a hearing on SMECO’s proposed Community Solar tariff in August. SMECO’s proposal varied a couple of ways from the PSC’s regulations, but, where it did, we believed the provisions were consistent with federal law. The PSC’s staff supported SMECO’s proposal and recommended to the Maryland regulators that SMECO be permitted to participate in the Community Solar program by waiving the PSC regulations SMECO thought unlawful. In September, the PSC rejected its staff’s recommendation and rejected SMECO’s proposed tariff.
Both SMECO and the PSC believe it would be valuable for SMECO to participate in the Community Solar program. But we want to do so with fair rates, and lawfully, so we are planning to again ask FERC to declare that the PSC’s regulations violate certain federal laws.
We will keep you informed of developments and SMECO’s efforts to make Community Solar available to you.
As an electric cooperative, SMECO works to fulfill its obligation to its customer-members, and we take our mission seriously. We are also committed to sustainability.
• We have assisted nearly 5,000 customers who have installed solar panels at their homes with streamlined, hassle-free connections of net meters.
• SMECO has stated clearly its interest in participating in the Maryland Community Solar pilot program, but only if the rules and compensation are set fairly so as not to disadvantage its customer-members.
• We are enthusiastic supporters of renewable energy, as evidenced by our commitment to purchasing energy from several solar and wind projects in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
• SMECO is a leader in advocating for policies that foster sound environmental practices and engaging in activities that improve energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.
See more in our Sustainability Position Paper which may be found on our website at smeco.coop/sustainability-position-paper