Utilities' new enemy is... the solar industry!?!


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: A group of solar companies have banded together to lobby for more and better net metering standards. So far, no big deals... until you read the language they are using to describe their mission. According to this group, "monopoly utilities" are trying to "quash... renewable energy." In fact, there is a "coordinated utility attack on net metering throughout the country."


Really? A coordinated war campaign by all of the nation's utilities to destroy renewable energy?

How sad to see yet another group resort to the nuclear option on day one instead of reasonable discourse. From where I sit, many utilities are opposed not to renewable energy, but to net metering regulations that force the people without solar panels to subsidize those that do. In most parts of the country, that means that lower and middle class customers subsidize wealthier customers who can afford the expense of solar panels.


Am I wrong? Is there really an organized conspiracy and I missed it? Use the Comment form. - Jesse Berst


Four of America's largest solar installers -- SolarCity Corp., Sungevity Inc., Sunrun Inc. and Verengo Inc.-- have banded together to lobby against the utility industry, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The Alliance for Solar Choice will focus on preserving net energy policies that require utilities to purchase surplus electricity at retail rates.


The group's president, Bryan Miller, claims to be responding to a "coordinated utility attack on net metering throughout the country."


For their part, utilities say they favor renewables, but want the costs shared fairly. A spokeswoman for Southern California Edison told the magazine: "We are concerned that there’s an unfair burden on our customers who have not installed solar panels. People with solar systems are still using the distribution grid and other utility services, minus generation, but do not pay their share." In California alone, utilities estimate net metering may shift as much as $1.3 billion a year in costs to non-solar customers.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

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