Utilities Double Dipping into Net Metering

Oh my—will they ever learn? The solar homeowner has enough challenges at his or her doorstep without yet another obstacle. Some utilities have welcomed solar as a growing part of their energy portfolio—and yet still others see solar as a threat, to be stopped at any cost. This blog entry is about the latter sort.

You probably have a hard enough time in reading your electricity bill—do the utilities do that on purpose? Try finding the average rate utility customers are paying in your region. You may be lucky and the utility may provide good access to that data—or not. If they can obscure the information and get away with it, who wants to sift through all of the arcane data? And that is the backdrop to the new net metering battles playing out throughout the country.

We tried to warn you! We know that net metering regulations do not make for easy reading. In our learning center, we gave you a primer on net metering, and if that wasn’t enough to satiate your curiosity, we summarized the major approaches to net metering. And because for many the decision to go solar is dependent on the economics, if the utilities can tweak the net metering rules in their favor, then the solar homeowner is going to lose, and lose big time.

This is not an academic argument. Check out the solar news today about what is going  on in Maryland. The state legislature passed new legislation intended to bolster the net metering laws. The Governor, a friend of solar energy, hailed the legislation as a way to support residential use of solar energy. But when it came time to implement the new legislation, the utilities struck a hard blow to defeat the intent of the legislature and the Governor.

I am oversimplifying, but essentially the utilities want to sell you electricity at retail, but want to credit you only for the cost of electricity at wholesale. You think that matters? To quote a famous politician, you betcha! The utilities are no dummies and they know exactly what they are doing. Unless they get some pushback from the politicians and the public, the utilities may add another decade to your return on investment when you put up your home solar energy system.

Elections do have consequences and we hope that you will go to the polls, well-informed of the renewable energy policies of the candidates for whom you will be voting.

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