Collect renewable energy payments for rooftop solar

The registration process is simple and benefits more than just the owner

As a member of the House Science Technology and Energy Committee the past three years, I have been dealing with issues surrounding energy generation, renewable and sustainable energy and energy efficiency. As part of that process I became aware of the fact that as a rooftop solar owner I am eligible to be registered as a renewable energy generator.

Such a determination would allow me to collect revenues for renewable energy credits, or REC, for each megawatt-hour, or 1,000KWh, of energy generated, after these RECs are sold at the New England quarterly auction.

It turns out that when such an owner is not registered to generate RECs, that person’s utility can claim them as their own and get credit as part of the utility’s REC obligation for New Hampshire’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Based on our state’s RPS targets (which are lower than other New England states), utilities are obligated to purchase a specific number of RECs. But if they can get them for free, that means they need to purchase fewer at the auction, and that lack of demand will discourage the generation of more RECs, driving down their price.

It is important to remember that RECs represent clean, renewable energy that also reduces carbon emissions. Also, when our RPS goals are low, we are forgoing many new renewable energy jobs and the economic growth that accompanies them.

Like many other solar owners, I was told that signing up as a renewable energy generator was too bureaucratic and not worth the effort financially. Despite that, I decided to find out for myself. While I did not find the process too complicated or time-consuming, it is true that the financial reward was not much to boast about (approx. $130/ year for a 6000-watt installation).

To qualify as a registered renewable energy generator that can earn RECs to sell at auction, an owner must: register with an aggregator (a collector and seller); sign up with an auditor; and submit monthly solar meter readings to the auditor.

After consulting with my solar installer, signed up with Knollwood Energy. My contract is for three years at a minimum price, with the aggregator collecting approx. $2.50 as a commission for each REC sold. In order for the energy generated to qualify, an auditor must verify the actual energy generated. (If an appropriate software is installed along with the solar installation, at a cost of about $300, the energy generated can be reported automatically.) My system was installed five years ago, without such software, so I signed up with an auditor at a cost of $10 per year.

That is all that is required.

As a result, every quarter I am sent a check from Knollwood Energy for the RECs sold at auction. My last payment for three months amounted to a net of $35. While this certainly is not a large amount of money, it is important to remember that auction prices vary, and that changes in the demand for RECs could be triggered by changes in the RPS target of the New England states.

But this small financial benefit is in addition to the much greater benefits enjoyed by solar rooftop owners, who also are contributing to the amount of New Hampshire renewable energy stock, which provides more energy independence to the state, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It is worth looking into solar energy generation whether on rooftops or stand-alone. The price of solar panels has been dropping annually and the efficiency of each panel has been increasing, while battery storage could soon be very affordable. In addition, there is still a federal energy credit and state credit available.

Peter Somssich The federal credit, which used to be 30% of system cost, is now only 26%, but is being phased out by Dec. 31, 2021, and the state rebate is $1,000, while funds last. This type of installation is not just for residential single-home owners, but community solar installations are also becoming more popular.

Peter Somssich represents Portsmouth in the New Hampshire House.

Categories: Opinion