Louisiana’s Public Service Commission (LPSC) recently released a net-metering (NEM) study that’s drawing the ire of the local solar industry. The study is more evidence that the next step utilities and others opposing net metering and the rights of homeowners to produce their own electricity are taking their case to state utility commissions rather than state legislatures where many such efforts have failed. This was recently pointed out in a Washington Post article.
"This study is a distortion of the truth, an assault on consumer energy choice and property rights by the monopoly utilities and certain allies on the Commission," said Jeff Cantin, president of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association. If monopoly utilities have their way in coming months, Louisianans will soon become completely captive to these bills, without the right to self-generate their own energy on their own private property for their own use," Cantin said.”
The study in question was conducted by Acadian on behalf of the state’s utility commission. In it’s conclusions the study contends that there were 7,517 solar installations in the commission’s jurisdictional areas. “If these trends continue, many of the LPSC-regulated utilities in the state will reach their Commission-defined NEM installation caps by 2016, if they have not already. Even with these caps, Louisiana would see a total of 15,240 solar NEM installations, for a total of about 78 MWs of solar capacity, in the LPSC-jurisdictional areas of the state, if growth rates continue at their current pace.”
The study extrapolated further, arguing that if trends continued LPSC-jurisdictions alone could see 84,500 solar NEM installations amounting to over 494 MWs of capacity by 2020. While that might seem like a good thing to fans of solar the study said such a move would cost ratepayers $809 million.
The local solar industry responded that the study is full of holes. Perhaps most damning however, the study omitted the fact that whether or not people invest in solar on their own, the state’s largest utility, Entergy, plans on investing $2 billion in power plant investments over the next few years—money that it expects ratepayers to pay.
“Monopolies don't like competition, and the state's utility monopolies would like to mistreat their solar customers as wholesale power plants,” Cantin said. “Unfortunately for our citizens, Louisiana has some of the highest bills in the region.”
The study also ignored the fact that the solar industry has created 1,200 direct jobs in the state as well as hundreds of ancillary jobs. "While many energy businesses are shedding jobs, solar is putting more people to work day after day, across Louisiana, serving hard-working families as employees and as customers,” Cantin said.
The organization also raised other issues about the study and its conclusions. Here’s a link to their contentions: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/louisiana-solar-industry-responds-to-unorthodox-solar-net-metering-study-300048471.htmlTweet