ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Looks Beyond Net Metering
Beyond net metering: How location can help put a value on DERs; A new report outlines an algorithm that could help streamline value-of-solar processes
Herman K. Trabish, February 18, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the national debate – thoroughly documented by Utility Dive has become more widespread and deeper.
In the 1990s, utilities and their regulators in a number of states across the country settled on retail rate net metering as a simple and convenient way to encourage the growth of distributed solar. It seemed like a good idea at the time — consumers would earn credits equal to the retail rate of electricity for any extra energy they exported back to the grid from their rooftop solar systems. For years, the practice allowed customers with rooftop solar to significantly cut their utility bills, enhanced the value proposition of rooftop solar, and allowed renewable energy to grow without a significant impact on utility finances.
But in the past few years, the situation has changed. Since the Great Recession, most utilities across the nation have faced stagnant or declining load growth as consumers cut energy usage and invest in efficiency upgrades. At the same time, increasing numbers of utility customers are turning to rooftop solar, and their numbers have become large enough in some service areas to significantly impact the utility's bottom line. Now, solar advocates and policymakers across the nation are passionately debating whether the “rough justice” of a retail rate net metering credit should still apply to today’s evolving distributed energy resources (DERs) market, as documented by GTM Research and what more accurate valuation scheme for DERs could be, as documented by 50 States Of Solar from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center…” click here for more