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Analysis shows rooftop solar saved New England ratepayers $1.1 billion from 2014-2019

December 09, 2020

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

A new report analyzing ISO New England data concluded that behind-the-meter solar produced over 8,600 GWh of electricity across the grid operator’s territory from 2014 to 2019, reducing wholesale energy market costs in the region by $1.1 billion.

In addition to $317 million in load-impact benefits, that figure includes $743 million in price effect benefits, which the report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics Inc. said “are shared by electricity customers throughout New England, not just the owners of the [behind-the-meter] solar facilities.”

Synapse said that when more customers implement behind-the-meter generation technologies, they inevitably purchase less energy from their utilities, which in turn can allow those utilities to avoid “the need to buy power from the most expensive power plant.” That, in turn, “leads to a lower ‘market-clearing price’ that is paid to all electric generators on the grid,” the report said.

“As a result, more [behind-the-meter] solar not only decreases the quantity of electricity purchased, it also reduces the price paid for purchased electricity — which benefits all New England ratepayers,” according to the Synapse report.

The consulting firm, which specializes in energy, economic and environmental issues, explained that it used data published by the ISO-NE in July on hourly behind-the-meter solar data to estimate “what demand and prices for electricity would have been” if such solar resources were not available.

On top of the direct pricing and load-impact benefits, the report identified $515 million in climate benefits and $87 million in public health benefits. The amount of behind-the-meter solar generated in New England helped avoid “4.6 million metric tons of climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions in 2014 through 2019, and avoided millions of pounds of criteria pollutants proven to have negative impacts on human health.”

[Bridget Reed Morawski]

More ($): Report finds behind-the-meter solar saved New England over $1B in 6 years

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