Net-metered capacity reported to the U.S. Energy Information Administration by utilities and third party owners increased from 8.9 GW in 2014 to 12.8 GW in 2015, or 43% year over year, according to data filed to the agency on a voluntary basis.
This reflects continued growth in the resources as well as increased reporting, as there was a 5% increase in the number of utilities and third-party owners that chose to file the net metering portion of the EIA-861 in 2015 versus 2014. A total of 1,005 utilities reported data in 2015, with some utilities reporting net-metered capacity but not energy sold back, and vice versa. Other utilities report no information at all. A total of 13 third-party owners of distributed solar capacity also reported capacity figures, along with customer counts.
The top two utilities by net-metered capacity combined for nearly a quarter of all reported capacity. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. accounted for 14% of the national total, and Southern California Edison Co. followed, accounting for 10%.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported a total of 1,848 MW of net-metered capacity. Solar made up 96% of Pacific Gas and Electric's net-metered capacity, totaling 1,772 MW (wind accounted for another 11 MW). The utility also reported the highest non-solar, non-wind net-metered capacity with 66 MW. "Other" capacity can include solar thermal electric, combined heat and power (CHP), landfill gas, biomass, geothermal electric, fuel cells, municipal solid waste, biogas, small hydroelectric, tidal energy, wave energy, and ocean thermal, but should be based on the state program eligibility. Overall, the utility saw a 39% year-over-year increase in net-metered capacity compared to 2014. Southern California Edison reported 1,245 MW of net-metered capacity, 65% of which was solar. The utility's total net-metered capacity increased nearly 41% year over year in 2015.
The other top eight reporting utilities had a combined net-metered capacity of 2,983 MW. Of these, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. reported the highest net-metered solar capacity, totaling 481 MW. NSTAR Electric Co. reported 25 MW of net-metered wind capacity, the most of any reporting utility. Of the 10 utilities with the most net-metered capacity, Massachusetts Electric Co. saw the largest increase of 41% year over year.
Jersey Central Power & Light Co. got 100% of its renewable capacity mix in 2015 from net-metered facilities. All of this capacity came from net-metered solar generators, totaling 313 MW. Massachusetts Electric Co. came in a close second, with 99% of its renewable capacity mix coming from net-metered capacity. Of this, 439 MW came from solar generators, and 18 MW came from wind. The company also owns 3 MW of solar capacity across three plants: Dorchester Solar Site, Haverhill Solar and New England Distribution Center.
Third-party owners also have the option to report net-metered capacity to the EIA. In 2015, a total of 13 third-party owners reported a total of 2.7 GW of net-metered capacity, accounting for 21% of all national reported net-metered capacity.
SolarCity Corp topped the list of third-party owners, with 1,170 MW of solar capacity. The company also reported 184,888 net-metered customers. The company blew the rest of the third-party owners away, with over double the capacity and customer count of the next highest on the list, Vivint Solar Inc., which reported 367 MW of net-metered capacity and 55,692 customers. Sunrun Inc. reported the third-highest capacity at 345 MW. The company recently announced an expansion of its solar-plus-storage system into California.
The 10 utilities that reported the highest 2015 net-metered capacity figures are concentrated in just six states: California, Colorado, Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Hawaii. Each of these states has had ongoing debates regarding net-metering policies, often pitting distributed solar advocates against utilities. All of these states also rank in the top 10 states with the highest reported net-metered capacity.
California led the country, with 5,227 MW of net-metered capacity. Three of the top 10 utilities operate there: Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Together, these three companies accounted for 68% of the state's net-metered capacity. The state's capacity is expected to increase again soon, with Pacific Gas and Electric nearing completion of a 2,409-MW solar rooftop program that will add more than 275,000 customers to the grid under the Net Energy Metering Successor Program.
New Jersey had the second highest net-metered capacity, with 1,193 MW. The state is home to two of the top 10 utilities: Public Service Electric and Gas Co. and Jersey Central Power and Light Co.
The state with the third-highest reported net-metered capacity was Arizona, with 1,103 MW. The only top 10 utility that operates there is Arizona Public Service Co.., which supported the Arizona Corporation Commission's recommended elimination of retail net metering of rooftop solar. State regulators approved the order, which will lower the compensation amount for power that customers send to utilities from their solar panels.
Hawaii remained in the list of top 10 states by net-metered capacity, despite the elimination of net energy metering for new solar customers in October 2015. However, while reported net-metered capacity remained noteworthy, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association recently issued a discouraging outlook for the solar industry in the state, warning that the industry's decline will continue without changes in state policies.
Utilities that choose to file the net metering portion of the EIA-861 may also report the number of net-metered customers they have. In 2015, Hawaii Electric Co. Inc. served a total of 302,499 retail electric customers. Almost 14% of these customers were net-metered. No other electricity provider with more than 200,000 retail customers cracked 10% net metering penetration.
San Diego Gas and Electric had the second highest net metering penetration, with 5% of the 1,421,831 retail electric customers being net-metered.