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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar"

Updating this March 09, 2015 ILB post is a lengthy Jan. 21st story in the IBJ, reported by John Russell, headed "Bill alarms solar-power advocates." The story reports on:

... a 12-year-old Indiana policy of allowing homeowners who generate their own electricity to ship any energy they don’t use to the grid and get a dollar-for-dollar credit from their utility.

But now, a bill introduced in the Indiana General Assembly would discontinue that policy, known as net metering—effectively wiping out a key financial incentive for homeowners and businesses to install rooftop solar systems and windmills.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 309, is sure to renew a fight between solar advocates, who want to keep the current system in place, and utilities, who say it’s unfair and should be changed.

Solar advocates say they are helping produce cleaner energy and supporting a growing industry. They argue state policy should encourage more people to do the same.

But utilities say customers with rooftop solar systems are basically getting a free ride, because they receive credits for producing their own energy yet still have access to the grid whenever they need it.

Utilities note that, when customers produce their own power, the cost of maintaining the grid doesn’t go down; it shifts to the rest of the customer base.

The bill is complex and the timetable for changes uncertain. But the outcome of the fight could shape whether Hoosier consumers and businesses embrace clean-energy alternatives in the decades to come, or remain largely on the sidelines.

Under the current system, if you generate your own electricity, you consume what you need and send the excess to the grid. Net metering is a mechanism that measures that excess. You are credited at an equal rate—now about 11 cents a kilowatt-hour, or what household customers pay for electricity at the retail rate.

Under the proposed changes, you would not get to keep the energy you produce, but would have to sell it all to the utility at a lower, wholesale rate—now about 3 cents a kilowatt-hour. Then you would have to buy all of their energy from the utility at the higher retail rate. That system is known as “sell all, buy all.”

The utility would keep the difference—now about 8 cents a kilowatt-hour—to maintain the grid and pay for other expenses.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 24, 2017 09:48 AM
Posted to Indiana Government