Three Cheers for Net Metering
The U.S. is consuming more electricity than ever and electricity costs are on the rise. The Energy Information Administration says that retail electricity was up nearly 3 percent per kilowatt hour in 2014. Americans are turning to solar to lower their utility bills, and net metering is the cornerstone policy mechanism that is making solar the cleaner, cheaper energy alternative.
The simple billing arrangement of net metering enables consumers who install solar systems on their properties to receive full retail credit for the surplus energy they provide to the electric grid. Currently net metering exists in 44 states, and the policy has driven almost 100 percent of all rooftop solar deployment in the United States over the last three decades.
In California alone, net metering has leveraged $10 billion in private investment and will allow schools and public agencies to save $2.5 billion in energy costs over the next 30 years.
Net Metering in Utilities' Crosshairs?
American utilities are monopolies; they've never faced competition. Solar makes energy cheaper and cleaner for everyone, but results in lost profit for monopolistic utilities. Utilities around the country view more rooftop solar as a threat to their old way of doing business and are working hard to lessen the impact of net metering - or kill it altogether.
And even though utilities bemoan net metering, they do see benefits: a modernized grid, new business models, reduction of strains on power systems during peak times and seasons, and reduced costs of generation and costs related to compliance with federal standards.
Net meting is creating jobs, reducing utility costs, and building a cleaner energy future for us all. It's time to support choice and competition in American energy policy.