ERC clarifies cost-sharing in net metering for RE

Published June 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Myrna M. Velasco

The Energy Regulatory Commission has clarified the cost-sharing parameter that the servicing distribution utility (DU) and the end-user must shoulder under the net metering policy for renewable energy (RE) technologies.

The regulatory body noted that under its newly issued rules, the cost of the renewable energy certificate (REC) meter shall be shouldered by the DU; while the wiring cost from the facility to the REC meter shall be borne by the qualified end-user or customer.

Net metering is an electricity billing mechanism that allows end-users to generate their own electricity (the so-called ‘prosumers’) and use them at any time; and they may also sell excess of their generation to the distribution network of a power utility – with corresponding cost compensation that may be done through cost offsetting scheme.

The ERC indicated that in the net metering rules laid down, “the most crucial concern raised by the DUs is the cost of the REC meter and the attendant installation cost.”

Given that, ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera said they opted to clarify the provisions in the amended net-metering rules “by providing explicit definitions, conditions or situations and to avert varying interpretations by the stakeholders.”

The ERC emphasized that aside from the ‘cost allocation’ issue between the DU and the end-user, questions were also raised on what shall be rated as “good credit standing’; where the ERC meter should be installed; and under whose ownership the meter shall be placed.

“With the clarifications that we have issued, we hope that any ambiguity will be eliminated and that more end-users will encourage to participate in the net metering program,” Devanadera stressed.

The regulatory body implemented the net metering program for the sector way back in 2013, but until now, this system has yet to make transformative impact in the country’s power sector.

Through the years, series of policy muddles, unclear cost burdens and conflicting rules from the ERC and the Department of Energy (DOE) have stalled shift strategies of consumers – despite impassioned wish of many to have upper hand on managing their electricity supply and usage.

The ERC chief opined “qualified end-users will be empowered with the program as they are ensured of a sustainable power supply and they also help decongest the power grid.”

The net metering program is seen as a viable stimulus for consumers to consider switching on their
energy use and patronage – that instead of continuing with the service of traditional power utility, they may opt to generate power on their own and will only rely on the grid as warranted.