Press "Enter" to skip to content

New Year, Same Solar Net Metering Battles [GTM Squared]

Solar still accounts for a marginal percentage of overall electricity load in nearly every state. But net metering battles, which often pit utility companies against residential solar advocates over the value of solar, have become increasingly common in recent years, says Autumn Proudlove of North Carolina State University’s Clean Energy Technology Center, which monitors quarterly shifts in state-level clean energy policy.

“Net metering is definitely the biggest topic right now that we’re seeing action on,” said Proudlove, the Center’s senior policy program director. “And of that, successor tariffs are really where a lot of the focus is.”

While the center has tracked net metering policy since 2014 or 2015, Proudlove has seen a surge in activity in recent years. By her estimate, about half of U.S. states have or are currently considered a successor tariff to traditional net metering, a policy that determines how solar customers are compensated for the solar power they export to the grid.

This year the issue also made a splash at the federal level, when a group called the New England Ratepayers Association filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission arguing for federal jurisdiction over net metering. FERC dismissed the petition in July.  

“You see a fair amount of conflict around net metering policy in various states, in various markets. They play out a bit differently, but the overall theme is that it remains a struggle to maintain a fair compensation scheme for solar customers,” said Sean Gallagher, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s vice president of state affairs.

Idaho is one example of those struggles, but is certainly not an isolated case. As distributed solar becomes increasingly common — Wood Mackenzie forecasts 13 percent residential solar growth in 2021 — disagreements may grow over the level at which exported solar should be compensated. Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy recent net metering battles as the new year begins.

Source: Greentech Media