ORIGINAL REPORTING: Four Ways To Reconsider Net Metering
Beyond rate reforms: Bundling strategies could resolve net metering battles; An NREL study evaluated four common strategies used in these debates to find a solution for both sides
Herman K. Trabish, June 16, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The debate over how to support distributed solar in a way that is fair to all utility customers continues to burn hotly across the country.
Debates over net metering policies nationwide are notoriously heated, with utilities and solar sector often sharply divided over how to compensate rooftop solar users for their excess energy. Utilities say rooftop solar users don't pay their fair share to maintain the grid and shift those costs onto non-rooftop solar users. Solar advocates argue that utilities and regulators fail to quantify the full value and benefits of distributed solar. Rate reforms have been the primary tool of choice thus far in regulatory proceedings to settle the disputes. But there could be a new way to resolve that debate and satisfy both sides beyond just rate reforms, according to a new National Renewable Energy Laboratory report.
The paper surveyed various forms of reforms, including rate design and efforts to deploy distributed solar in ways most useful for utilities, and place them in four categories, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. The most familiar strategy are requests from utilities to reduce net metering compensation. The second group of strategies are how distributed generation resources are deployed and used in ways valuable to utilities. Broadening customer access to solar through an expanded market is a third strategy. The fourth—and possibly the most complicated and forward-thinking—strategy, would be to align utility profits and earnings with the deployment of more distributed solar. No single category outlined in the report offers the proverbial silver bullet… click here for more