Net metering's $92M benefit


California's investor-owned utilities have been critical of net metering because it diminishes their ability to justify the capital investment infrastructure projects that earn them a guaranteed profit, but new research from consultants Crossborder Energy offers a look at some of the benefits for utilities.

"When someone decides to put solar panels on their roof, they not only generate clean power, but also reduce strain on the electric grid while offering financial benefits to all ratepayers," said Adam Browning , executive director of The Vote Solar Initiative, the organization commissioning the report.

Further, utilities can reduce their investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure and experience less electricity loss during transportation over power lines, as net metered solar's surplus energy is sent to the grid locally. Utilities can also save on the cost of meeting emissions reduction and renewable energy targets.

The report concludes that the financial benefits of net metered power outweigh the costs, with a total net benefit value of more than $92 million annually by the time the state's net metering program is fully subscribed.

Policies like net metering have helped California become home to a fast-maturing solar industry, which not only benefits utilities and ratepayers but the economy at large. California's solar industry now employs over 43,000 and has attracted more than $10 billion in private investment.

"…net metering is doing what it was designed to do -- accelerating solar adoption while reducing our dependence on dangerous fossil fuels and kick-starting one of the most promising job-creating industries of the 21st Century," said Daniel Kammen, University of California Berkeley distinguished professor in the Energy and Resources Group, and professor of public policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy.  "Solar produces energy at the times of highest cost to the utilities, so with the right market incentives, it is a simple 'win-win-win' for ratepayers, utilities, and the environment."

For more:
- see the report

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