A very important solar energy policy called “net metering” is being attacked by slick commercials in Arizona and California, and it’s important for solar owners and potential solar customers to know the facts.
Leading solar states like California, Colorado, and Arizona are under the most pressure right now, but utilities in other states are also gearing up for a public relations battle to significantly gut the benefits of net metering.
Before we get into the attacks, first let’s understand what’s at risk.
What’s Net Metering?
Net metering is a solar policy that allows you to buy enough solar panels to cover your daytime and nighttime needs. When you overproduce energy during the day, the utility keeps track of your extra power. Then at night or on cloudy days, the utility is required to credit your electric bill with that excess solar power you generated during the day.
You benefit because you don’t have to have batteries to store your extra solar energy, and the utility benefits because it can sell your extra solar power to your neighbors. It’s a win-win, right?
The Attack on Net Metering
Even though solar makes up just 3% of the grid power in California, the utilities are shaking in their boots about the future. Instead of changing their business model, they want to preserve their monopoly, so they’re lobbying lawmakers and regulators with biased studies and anti-solar laws.
According to the utility’s very biased studies, net metering is allowing residential and commercial solar customers to not pay for their fair share of transmission costs and maintenance of the grid. Their suggested solution is to tack on extra “demand” charges (monthly fees) on solar customers to make up for the shortfall. They also want to decrease rates for high-usage customers and increase rates for low usage customers, essentially encouraging people to waste energy.
The Truth About Solar and Net Metering
What the utilities don’t say in their lobbying and accounting is how solar is benefitting them and adding value to the grid and saving them upgrade costs on their infrastructure.
- They hide the fact that they sell your home’s extra solar power to your neighbors at full (expensive) daytime rates, and credit it back to you at cheaper night-time rates, making a sweet profit on your extra solar power.
- They neglect to mention how all of these home solar installations are replacing their need to build expensive, dirty energy power plants.
In fact, according to a January 2013 study, when solar capacity reaches 5% in California, the benefits of net-metered projects will exceed its costs by about $92 million a year!
And yet, utilities want even more money out of non-solar rate payers and net metering solar customers, who are not only helping utility profits, but also the environment! This funny video from www.saverooftopsolar.com sums up the issues nicely:
What You Can Do to Save Net Metering
You can help keep solar affordable for everyone and help to save net metering. Here are three simple things that you can do:
- Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social network that you belong to.
- Sign up for Vote Solar’s action alerts. Vote Solar is one of the leading solar organizations trying to preserve solar net metering. They’ll keep you informed and send you ways to send a quick pre-written note to your legislator.
- Get a solar quote from REC Solar.
I know this last suggestion sounds self-serving, but the truth is that the more solar customers with net metering, the more strength that REC Solar and other companies have when speaking to state legislators. Your voice—and your vote—counts when solar organizations speak to legislators, especially if you want more clean and affordable energy instead of dirty energy.
Of course, besides helping to preserve net metering, you’ll also save money on your electric bill. So, getting a solar quote is a win-win-win for you, for solar advocacy, and for growing solar and more solar jobs. To get a solar quote, start here.