BOSTON (CBS) – Almost two years after crews installed solar panels on his roof, Roy Hall is finally able to enjoy their energy-saving benefits.
This month, the Lunenburg homeowner connected to the electrical grid, 20 months later than he initially planned.
“Delighted to be up and running,” Hall told WBZ-TV. “Disappointed it took so long.”
As the WBZ I-Team first reported in April 2015, Hall was the victim of some unfortunate timing.
When it was time to flip the switch on his new solar system, his utility company, Unitil, informed him the area’s circuit had reached its capacity.
To avoid potentially damaging the transmission system and creating a safety concern, Unitil said a $250,000 upgrade was needed at the substation before it accepted any new solar applications.
And according to state rules, since Hall was the solar customer to push the circuit over its threshold, he would be financially responsible. As one might guess, Hall declined to fund the quarter-million dollar project.
A solar stalemate ensued.
WBZ-TV learned that Unitil has recently completed the substation upgrade, allowing Hall to connect to the grid. The utility company will also start processing homeowners on the waiting list.
But with a situation that might surface in other parts of the state, the question remains about who should pay for the costly upgrades. The current rules don’t require utility companies to pay them to avoid non-solar customers subsidizing the projects.
A Unitil spokesman said there is an ongoing discussion about the issue between utility companies and the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
“We are pleased this portion of Lunenburg has returned to normal operations and we will continue to work with DPU to find long-term solutions for our customers as the ways they use electric infrastructure continue to evolve,” spokesman Alec O’Meara said.
Hall said his solar vendor allowed him to defer payments on the equipment while he waited to connect to the grid.
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.