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At SolarCity's N.H. Ribbon-Cutting, Hassan Considers Revisiting Net Metering Cap

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas cuts the ribbon at SolarCity's Manchester, NH warehouse on Sept. 9, 2015. Governor Hassan (center) and Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (center left) also pictured.

The nation’s largest solar energy contractor is expanding in New Hampshire. But California-based SolarCity says solar’s future here would be brighter if the state lifts a cap on its net metering program.

SolarCity , whose principal investor is tech billionaire Elon Musk, put up 40 percent of the residential solar panels in the country last year, and has been doing business in southern New Hampshire since April.

With a new base of operations in Manchester, the company hopes to reach farther north. SolarCity Vice President Lee Keshishian says future growth may hinge on what the state does with net metering.

“The biggest thing for us is having a clear path forward. Obviously we believe that net metering is a key to having a clean energy program in any state.”

Net metering, which exists in forty states and became New Hampshire law in 1998, allows consumers who produce energy – via solar, wind, or small dams – to be credited for sending power back onto the grid. Total credits here are capped at 1% of peak energy demand statewide, and divvied up between the utilities based on market share.

Some utilities are reaching their caps, which make the economics of rooftop solar more tenuous.

Governor Maggie Hassan helped cut the ribbon at SolarCity’s  Manchester warehouse. She says the cap may need to be revisited.

“I think we’ll take a look at that issue and see it there are ways we can work with the utilities to address that, but mostly today I am celebrating not only solar in New Hampshire, but the creation of good paying jobs here at SolarCity in New Hampshire.”

So far, SolarCity has added forty New Hampshire employees. The company expects that number to double when its Manchester facility is fully staffed.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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