What is Net Metering?
Net Metering permits commercial and residential customers generating their own electricity using solar power to transmit surplus energy back into the electrical grid. For example, if a homeowner has rooftop solar panels, they might actually generate more electricity than the household will use during the day. Such a residence that is net-metered will see its electricity meter providing a credit and the meter will run backwards. Utility customers are billed only for their net energy usage.
Net Metering Laws
A number of states have passed laws related to net metering. Some states have utilities that provide voluntary net metering programs or they may exist because of regulations. Net metering benefits can vary widely depending upon differences in state legislation and implementation.
Net Metering And Arizona Solar Energy
The Arizona solar energy industry has recently been in the news, with the state imposing a fee on residential customers using Arizona solar panels as part of photovoltaic systems. The Arizona Corporation Commission imposed a 70 cent fee per kilowatt for those using Arizona solar panels. This could amount to almost 5 dollars per month for an average household.
The ruling could impact not only customers and solar installers in Arizona, but people throughout the country. This is because Arizona is the leading solar state, largely because of its favorable weather and abundant sunshine. Many solar installers in Arizona are concerned that the state’s action could becpme a bellwether for the rest of the country and also affect those selling solar panels outside the state.
The new regulations could also have an effect on a type of photovoltaic system for residences called “solar gardens”. This option allows customers to forgo purchasing a home installation and instead have a lease on the output of a jointly-owned solar farm. The value of the electricity generated by the customer’s share is deducted from their regular electricity bill.
Many solar advocates drew hope from a recent poll in Colorado, which saw almost four in five Colorado residents supporting solar net metering. The utility monopoly Xcel is fighting there against Colorado’s successful renewable energy policy.
Concerns Over Precedent
Many of those interested in solar rebates for Arizona, and solar advocates in general, are concerned over how the net metering decision could influence similar debates in other places. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expressed its concern that the regulatory action in Arizona might set a precedent for other parts of the country. The organization objected to the imposition of fees on Arizona consumers that could endanger further growth in the industry and job creation.
It is unknown how the decision might impact solar rebates in Arizona.