ALBANY, NY — The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) held a stakeholder meeting on November 9 to discuss mechanisms for addressing the statewide issue of community solar …
ALBANY, NY — The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) held a stakeholder meeting on November 9 to discuss mechanisms for addressing the statewide issue of community solar billing.
A number of utility companies in New York State have backlogs in their billing processes for community solar customers. Customers of utilities such as NYSEG and RG&E are receiving bills late as utilities struggle to keep up with community solar crediting, as previously covered by the River Reporter.
The PSC previously directed utilities to file plans for addressing the issue. The November 9 meeting focused on the tools the PSC could use to encourage compliance.
Discussed at the meeting were various types of fines for the companies that had issues with their billing. One sample fine proposed adding a 30 percent increase to the credits for each untimely or inaccurate bill: if a customer was owed $100 in credits, they would receive a total of $130. Another proposed a mechanism tied to the annual average percentage of delayed bills: the larger the percentage of bills delayed, the larger the fine it would have to pay.
Testimony NYSEG had provided in a current rate case extended its timeline for full automation for community distributed generated (CDG) solar billing to 2026, said PSC employee Kayla Whitaker. “Staff’s proposal was to try to mitigate that and incentivize the companies to make further strides in automating their CDG process.”
The PSC looked into the issues of delayed billing at NYSEG and RG&E and found that according to its analysis approximately 29 percent of all CDG customers reported were receiving bills within 30 days, and 71 percent were receiving bills outside that timeframe.
“Some customers were receiving bills three months or even half a year later, and that was unacceptable to staff,” said Whitaker. The companies did clarify that not all CDG customers were billed monthly, Whitaker noted, a fact that could throw the PSC’s analysis off. NYSEG and RG&E representative Kelly Packard told the River Reporter that the companies combined have over 55,000 community solar customers, and that less than 25 percent were affected by billing delays.
Stakeholders at the meeting expressed concerns about how long it might take to address the problem, and what the impact of delay could be on community solar developers and on customers.
“I am really concerned about the timeline,” said Louise Gava, director of community choice aggregation operations for Joule Community Power. “I am really concerned about us arguing over nitty-gritty things while customers continue to not get bills, get inaccurate bills… I think we really are running out of time to regain consumer trust.”
Gava’s proposal asked stakeholders to agree to metrics and to a plan by a February meeting of the PSC: “The longer time goes on, the worse this problem is getting.”
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