U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (right) and Hudson Solar president Jeff Irish (center) discussed the ramifications of capping net-metering.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (right) and Hudson Solar president Jeff Irish (center) discussed the ramifications of capping net-metering.

Schumer visits local solar installer

Calls for state to raise net-metering cap

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Sen. Charles Schumer joined Hudson Solar president Jeff Irish in Rhinebeck Aug. 6 to urge that the state Public Service Commission (PSC) raise the limit for the solar power net-metering benefit.

The benefit allows solar power owners, either businesses or homeowners, to earn credits on their energy bills when they produce more power than they need: the meter effectively spins backward, the excess power goes back to the local utility, and the customer gets the credit for it.

But last month Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reached its allowable limit set by the PSC and suspended net metering signups.

“What the legislature did was they set the cap at 1 percent of each utility’s 2005 peak demand,” said Irish. “And for Central Hudson, being a small utility, that turns out to be 12 megawatts. They hit that 12 megawatt limit about three weeks ago. They can voluntarily increase it or they can be ordered to do so by the Public Service Commission.”

Schumer’s push comes after Irish petitioned the PSC to impose a short-term tripling of Central Hudson’s capacity to 36 megawatts.

As a result of pressure from Schumer and the local solar industry, Central Hudson announced on Aug. 3 that it would resume processing net metering applications temporarily until the PSC issues its ruling on Irish’s request.

Schumer was joined at Hudson Solar by officials from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York and the Solar Energy.

“New York’s Public Service Commission’s net metering cap for new solar energy is too low and needs to be raised so more solar power – and clean energy jobs – can be generated right here in the Hudson Valley,” Schumer said. “That is why I’m urging the PSC to utilize their authority and raise this cap so that solar panel installations keep expanding and we do not pull the plug on new solar jobs for the Hudson Valley’s clean energy industry.”

Hudson Solar, formerly known as Hudson Valley Clean Energy before the purchase of Adirondack Solar two years ago, is located in north Rhinebeck west of 9G and just celebrated its 10th year in business. According to Irish, they have installed nearly 1,000 systems and employ 40 employees including engineers, electricians, construction people and technical sales people.

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