NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rooftop solar expands, seeks successors to net metering

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    Wednesday, March 06, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rooftop solar expands, seeks successors to net metering

    As rooftop solar expands, states grapple with successors to net metering; Replacements to the controversial solar incentive have cropped up in Hawaii, California and elsewhere, but policymakers have struggled to devise a replicable model.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 13, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Debates about successor tariffs have expanded since this story ran, and the values of generation when and where it is produced are the dominant questions.

    Replacements for net energy metering (NEM), the controversial policy supporting distributed solar, have been debated nationally for years, but now sector leaders say some replicable models may be emerging. Net energy metering is the policy available in many states that compensates rooftop solar owners for the generation their solar arrays send to the grid. Under it, utilities compensate solar owners at the same retail rate for power sent to the grid as the customers pay for electricity they consume. Utilities say the policy allows customers with distributed solar to reduce their bills too much, shifting utility grid infrastructure costs to the rest of the customer base.

    NEM has led to heated state-level debates since 2013 over whether — and how — to construct a successor to the policy. The challenge is structuring a successor tariff to compensate rooftop solar customers fairly for their generation without imposing costs on non-solar customers. Experts say a good successor tariff should also support the growth of distributed energy resources (DER) in a way that benefits customers and the grid. "Regulators, utilities, and solar advocates early on had the tools and ideas needed," said Karl Rabago, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. "Instead, they wasted years fighting almost every regulatory innovation put on the table, and debated net energy metering, which has always only been a 'rough justice' policy." Rabago oversaw the design of the first value of solar tariff, one of the earliest types of net metering successor tariffs, as an Austin Energy executive. It was not widely accepted outside the city. "We are still waiting for the state that does it right, that creates the template that others can follow," Rabago said… click here for more

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