In 2017 40 states and Washington, DC, have already considered changing their solar policies for rooftops and more. To help states and regulators implement fair and equitable net-metering and solar energy reimbursement rate structures solar advocates from across the country have come together to develop Principles for the Evolution of Net Energy Metering and Rate Design.
“To effectively communicate as a group, you need to sing from the same song sheet and I’m confident this set of shared principles will resonate loud and clear,” said Sean Gallagher, Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA’s) vice president of state affairs. “With these principles we’re taking a collective, proactive approach that will ultimately allow for expanded consumer electricity choice and fair compensation for America’s families.”
Vote Solar, SEIA and renewable energy advocates from around the country came together to develop the new set of principles as more people than ever are adding solar to their rooftops and businesses. At the same time utilities are trying to reduce the amounts they have to pay for such activities, particularly as solar installations become cheaper. This is making regulators take up such issues with more regularity.
“By this time next year, more than two million households nationwide will own or lease rooftop solar,” said Rick Gilliam, program director of Distributed Generation Regulatory Policy at Vote Solar. “Americans will continue to invest in solar to harness clean, affordable and reliable power for their own homes and businesses, which goes hand-in-hand with building a 21st-century grid that remains reliable, secure and affordable for everyone. This set of principles was designed with that in mind and should serve as a guide for all stakeholders that share that vision.”
The guide was developed to help design both current and future rate programs. It focusses on addressing issues where higher levels of distributed solar are driving the evaluation of the costs and benefits of net metering—reimbursing customers for energy their solar arrays put back on the grid, or potential successors or replacements for net-metering.
The guide recommends net-metering should remain the ideal mechanism for reimbursing customers for the solar energy they put back on the grid. “Customers have a right to reduce their consumption of grid-supplied electricity with energy efficiency, demand response, storage, or clean distributed generation. Thus, a customer should always receive the full retail price value for behind the meter choices that reduce grid-supplied energy consumption,” the guide stated. It added that most studies show the benefits of rooftop solar equal or exceed costs to the utility or other customers where there’s little rooftop solar. As such, in cases where utilities or regulators want to reduce or end net-metering, the guide calls for demonstrations of how other customers are paying for others’ rooftop solar systems.
When considering alternative approaches to compensating homeowners and businesses for distributed solar power, the guide said a fair value of solar tariff (VOST)—or “stacked benefit”—compensation rate can be considered. It also discussed buy all/sell all schemes where the customer signs an agreement to sell all the power their system produces to the utility. The guide recommended that such an approach should only be an option to the customer.Tweet