Solar Installers Battle Utilities to Preserve Net Metering

Top solar installers such as SolarCity, Sungevity and Sunrun have formed the Alliance for Solar Choice to protect supportive policies, which are under attack in 43 states.

Not only does the solar industry have to battle conservative groups like ALEC that are working to eliminate Renewable Portfolio Standards, but they also have to deal with the big utilities, which are increasingly threatened by solar infringing on their business models. 


Initially, the Alliance is focused on preserving net metering, a key policy behind solar’s expansion. If there’s more energy generated that a home or building needs, the meter turns backwards, sending the energy goes back to the grid and the utility must pay for that.

There is a "coordinated utility attack on net metering throughout the country," Bryan Miller, President of Sunrun and the Alliance, told Bloomberg.

"Threats to the centralized utility business model have accelerated" in part due to net energy metering, says the Edison Electric Institute, an association of investor-owned power companies that serve about 70% of the U.S. market, reports Bloomberg. 

Utilities say the cost of operating the grid is shifting to people that don’t have solar because more people are installing solar and getting paid for that energy. It could eventually shift as much as $1.3 billion a year to non-solar customers, placing an unfair burden on them.

Further, people that install solar still use the grid and utility services but they don’t pay for that.

"Utilities almost never fret over rising costs to ratepayers," Will Craven of SolarCity told Bloomberg. "Yet rooftop solar, which is actually driven by consumer demand and is putting more clean energy on the grid and creating jobs, is the object of these utilities’ intense concern."

Net metering provides $92 million a year in benefits to California’s three big utilities, according to research by Vote Solar, in economic, public health and environmental benefits.

They found the utilities’ analysis to be inaccurate because it assumes customers always receive credits at the highest rate tiers, but in fact, the opposite is true. And their calculations overstate the amount of solar energy being sent to the grid by as much as 80%. 

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Comments on “Solar Installers Battle Utilities to Preserve Net Metering”

  1. Marian

    Net metering is Key. We expected that it would face attack from those who are committed to the easy profits of the past decades, even ifmailing in our monthly checks no longer works.

    Utilities are like banks, they don’t understand their products. Their work is to buy policies that continue to maximixe their profits in the current quarter. Taking a view of the past or the future is frowned upon. Their job is to keep us from entering a new economy with renewables; to keep running in place.

    Reply
  2. Kevi

    If solar panel owners do NOT get paid at the highest tier rates when selling electricity back to the grid, then what is the average tier rate paid to consumers, in laymans terms? Thanks.

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