Net metering controversy: How to calculate the true value of solar
Quick Take: Could we actually build a consensus around a fair way to value rooftop solar? An effort is underway right now in Minnesota. Let's watch this effort with great care and with the hope that it will a) provide a methodology that is fair to both utilities and customers and b) prove to be applicable to other states. - By Jesse Berst
Utilities around the country are increasingly embroiled in a debate about the fairness (or lack thereof) of net metering. Under that practice, customers who generate electricity from rooftop solar are reimbursed at the full retail rate. As a result, they do not bear any of the costs of connecting to the grid.
Edison Electric Institute recently calculated that an average residential customer paying $110 a month is receiving $60 worth of value for grid services. EEI and its member utilities claim such customers are not paying their fair share of the costs to maintain the grid.
But net metering advocates claim these numbers are skewed since they come from an electric power trade association. That's why I'm gratified to hear that Minnesota's Department of Commerce is developing a method to value solar that will then be submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.