As more solar power and particularly rooftop comes online utilities will have to keep changing how they charge and reimburse customers with solar power. To help ensure that charges are fair the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and partners including TechNet, the Sierra Club and more have introduced “Rate Design for a Distributed Grid.”
“Rooftop solar is of the most popular clean energy products in recent history among electricity consumers,” said Andrea Deveau, Executive Director of TechNet. “Utilities should embrace this and other reliable, clean and advanced energy technologies and integrate these resources into their procurement and grid planning in order to reduce electric system costs while lowering emissions without any compromise to system reliability.”
The new paper is aimed at helping utility regulators understand how to create fair rate structures for a distributed energy grid with more solar power and it comes out ahead of an annual meeting of electric industry regulators in Nashville, TN.
The paper shows how distributed energy like rooftop solar benefits the grid by reducing the need for electric generation, extra transmission and distribution capacity, and can lower energy costs and reduce price volatility.
“Time and again, state public utility commissions and other researchers have found that the benefits of distributed solar equal or exceed the costs to electric ratepayers,” said Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs at SEIA. “Rather than using rates to slow down the solar revolution, utilities and regulators can help bring about a sustainable distributed energy future that takes advantage of the services that solar systems can provide to the grid.”
Among its recommendations the paper asserted that electric rate designs need to empower consumers to control costs and to update utility business models to incentivize them to rely upon customer-sited distributed resources.
The paper recommends a rate design that ensures fairness for all ratepayers, advocating for reforms to integrate distributed resources into the electric grid and maximize their value. It also recommends that utilities use gradualism when changing rate structures and that they grandfather customers into programs rather than quickly change them to new rate structures. The paper was produced by TechNet, Sierra Club, SEIA, Vote Solar, The Alliance for Solar Choice, CalSEIA and SolarCity.Tweet