Despite its many benefits, net energy metering (NEM) programs have become a battleground issue in many states. Just this week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its proposal for modifying net metering in California, the so-called “Net Billing tariff”. To say it favors the utility companies at the expense of solar consumers — especially working- and middle-class customers — would be an understatement.
We posted a blog with more of the details and some things you can do to help make sure this proposal doesn’t become the law.
These Aurora resources explore what changes to NEM have occurred in a few states, why dismantling NEM runs counter to public interest, and other state-led energy assistance programs to assist in the continued adoption of solar power.
The Crucial Fight for Net Energy Metering: Defining the Stakes
Roughly 40 states have mandated net energy metering (NEM) programs or other methods to compensate consumers for the excess solar energy they generate. And while the benefits of net energy metering are almost too vast to count, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) across the U.S. have been working to dismantle NEM and to stifle competition.
In this article, we work to answer why NEM has become so contentious, and ways we can help save solar’s growth and jobs. Read on.
How Virtual Net Metering Opens New Markets of Solar Customers
Residential solar has grown dramatically over the last decade, making the benefits of lower electric bills and cleaner energy significantly more accessible. In fact, the annual growth in residential solar installations has averaged 68% over the last 10 years according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). In addition to the falling cost of solar components, this growth has to a large extent been driven by the development of policies and financing approaches that enable cost-effective projects.
To date, however, policies for residential solar, like net metering, have predominantly focused on supporting solar for homeowners, leaving renters and other potential solar customers limited options for accessing the benefits of solar energy. And for solar contractors, this means a large portion of the potential market has been closed.
Virtual net metering, which extends net metering to customers who do not share the same meter as a solar installation, has great potential to make cost-effective solar energy accessible to other portions of the residential market. Read more to learn how virtual net metering (VNEM) works and the potential for this emerging market.
Solar Export Credits in Utah: What the Changes Mean for Installers
Rocky Mountain Power in Utah is one of the utilities that offers a NEM alternative in their transitional tariff. Rather than compensating solar production at the full retail rate (typically 8.8 – 11 cents per kWh for residential customers), owners would get paid a flat 9.2 cents per kWh for their exports. This was a fair deal for a while as it was pretty close to the retail rate.
At the end of October 2020, Utah’s Public Service Commission (PSC) granted a Rocky Mountain Power request to reduce that export credit from 9.2 cents per kWh down to 5.6-5.9 cents per kWh, seasonally adjusted. This change is applied to new customers going forward – those with existing systems will still continue to enjoy a fair export rate.
In this article, we’ll crunch the numbers to see if solar is still feasible in the beehive state.
DTE’s Net Metering in Michigan & Design Tips to Maximize Solar Value
This article quantifies the impacts of Michigan’s 2019 DTE net metering replacement policy. We’ll use a case study of a typical home and analyze DTE’s impacts for customers at different levels of energy usage and solar offset. This article also includes some solar design guidance to help you maximize the value for your solar customers in DTE territory. Read more.