Ensuring that net metering remains a win-win-win



You can certainly find some extreme viewpoints in the ongoing debate on net metering. You can also find a growing chorus of people who think the stakeholders can work it out. That we can find a new business model that is fair to all. One of those voices comes from Brian F. Keane, a leading voice on clean energy, energy efficiency and the environment. You'll find his recommendations below. - Jesse Berst


Brian F. Keane


More Americans use residential solar power than ever before, and the price is dropping dramatically. That’s great news for the growth of solar energy. And for reducing America’s reliance on fossil fuels. But it’s threatening a win-win-win situation that has bolstered solar adoption and that remains crucial to future solar growth.


That situation involves "net metering” - an ingenious program that allows residential solar owners to sell energy back to the utility when they aren’t using it. Net metering has been a key component - with other financial incentives - to building the solar market in the United States. Indeed, in the mid-2000s, as solar was struggling to get a toe-hold, it provided much of the momentum to keep solar moving forward.


The triple win

Net metering offered residential solar customers an added financial benefit to putting solar on the roof. It also benefited the utility companies who needed the added energy to help feed our voracious energy habits. And it aided solar installers and leasing companies, which gained from the additional offset of solar costs.


It has clearly been a win-win-win. Maintaining that shared victory is crucial if we are to continue to grow and expand the industry. For solar to win, no one involved should lose.


Net metering is still a win for the solar customer and for the installer, but increasingly it’s less and less beneficial to the utility companies, who have been - and must continue to be - real partners in rooftop solar. If the economics don’t work for the utility companies, their non-solar customers and their regulators, solar will be the loser.