A recent filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is threatening to end utilities' practice of fairly compensating solar owners for their excess energy. We need to speak out against this proposed change, and quickly. The deadline for comments at savesolar.org is June 15th so please follow the link to register your comments.
The petition comes from the misleadingly named New England Ratepayers Association, which appears to be comprised of a shady group of fossil fuel interests. The group has filed to overturn a 40-year-old precedent governing people’s ability to participate in net metering.
Net Metering Should Is, And Should Continue to be, Controlled by States
Today, states set their own rules for solar energy generated by residential, commercial and municipal utility customers in excess of what the customer needs at any given time. Over 40 states now require utilities to provide net-metering credits for that excess energy. In Virginia, solar owners get full 1-to-1 retail credit for any energy they put back on the grid.
If FERC grants the petition, it will assume jurisdiction over net metering, overturning a 40-year precedent of states' control. The petition would deem that any excess energy produced by a solar owner be priced at a utility's avoided cost, i.e. wholesale. This would cause current solar owners' utility bills to skyrocket, and would make solar much less financially feasible for future owners.
Specific implications of the petition include:
- Approximately 2.2 million homes and 100,000 other customers, across 49 states, will see significantly increased electric bills due to the loss of meaningful net metering.
- Existing net metering customers may lose legacy rights granted by state regulators to continue net metering for some period of years into the future.
- Individuals and small enterprises with net metering systems will be exposed to new tax liabilities, forcing them to pay taxes on the energy they generate for the grid. Currently, netting of exports is not generally considered taxable.
- The solar industry as a whole will suffer as paperwork, uncertainty, red tape and regulation change will result in a slowdown in the ability to install solar. Jobs will be lost, companies will suffer, and our progress in combating climate change with solar will be slowed.
We can’t let this happen. As we move to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, and as we look for a new, more equitable path forward for our society, it is clear that shackling renewable energy is many steps in the wrong direction.