Infrastructure Comm: More Net Neutrality, Eversource Rate Case

Acting on our discussion at the December meeting of the Infrastructure Committee, two committee members have started compiling knowledgable information about net neutrality, as well as what’s going on, and the issues at hand. Articles will help define what net neutrality is – both on the tech side and what it means to an individual. Articles will be shared here. As the committee continues gathering information, they are looking to debunk myths, as well as clarify talking points used when it was originally proposed. 

OpenCape continues to be a strong proponent for keeping the rules in place. “We see it as another differentiator for us,” Steve Johnson said. “I’m not seeing our providers adding fees.” Steve has been asked to speak at an event in Austin in April, about the impact net neutrality will have. Within Massachusetts there is a bill being put forward regarding states’ rights, and our ability to enact our own laws. 

Austin Brandt of Cape Light Compact gave us a summary of the EverSource rate case:

The DPU reduced the amount EverSource is allowed to collect, permitting the company 78% less than they requested. They also reduced rates because of the tax decrease. 

Of the four energy storage demonstration projects the company had requested, only projects in Wellfleet and Martha’s Vineyard were approved.

A practice of reclassifying customers in order to increase rates by more than the 10% maximum was stopped by the DPU.

The proposal to combine rate classes from about 20 down to 8 was denied. This proposal would have impacted seasonal customers and others negatively. 

Net metering credits were preserved (which CVEC had fought for), but they gave a warning that it may change in the next rate case. 

The DPU ruled that there is not enough to justify and support a 10% rate increase.

They allowed the consolidation of the two companies so they can share costs.

Monthly minimum reliability contribution

There will be a new demand charge for anyone who installs a system behind the meter after December 31 of this year, assuming the ruling stays in place. Since this disincentivizes PV, the solution may be a legislative fix, rather than a regulatory fix. If the ruling holds, it may spur investment in new technology, so power is stored, rather than returned to the grid. Meanwhile, Austin said Cape Light Compact hopes some of these orders will be overturned.

There was also discussion about how the internet has grown up, and how we have lost control of our own data – which Google and Facebook are using to their advantage. The fracturing of the internet came up as a growing concern, as well as low level AI – “AI weeds” – cluttering the internet.

The committee went on to discuss the possibility of Puerto Rico as a laboratory for change. The committee noted that we’re seeing a demand for a more stable grid, through smaller systems that are smarter and more resilient. We can learn from what’s happening in other places.

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