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Discussion of net metering is back in the headlines. If you don’t know what net metering is, think of it as your utility company paying you for any excess electricity you generate with your home solar power system. Since few residential solar panel systems today have battery storage as a part of the overall plan, that excess power is wasted otherwise.

But from the perspective of a utility company, you may be considered a competitor. Most utilities are for-profit enterprises with stockholders to answer to. Buying your excess solar power production at kwh rates that can be higher than other power generation sources available to them is not fiscally attractive.

Enter the push-pull topic of net metering. It’s in the best interest of the residential solar owner to keep their aggregate bill as low as possible. But the argument made by the utilities is this can set up an effective subsidy, where renters or properties without proper southern exposures are excluded from the benefits and financial incentives of solar.

Now add in some of the schizophrenic behavior of the utilities where they are weighing large-scale solar projects while at the same time waging endless legal challenges to cap-and-trade in the court systems, it becomes even more of a mess. Lots of states are grappling with the issue. Some have clearly gotten in wrong and tilted too far in favor of the utilities(Nevada), while more progressive states like California continue to protect the consumer. It’s unrealistic to think utilities are going to suddenly adopt a charitable approach and simply cave to consumer friendly net metering programs.

Some states have mandated net metering programs and some have voluntary. But with the cost of installed solar panel systems dropping so dramatically, it just makes sense to take advantage of available generation capacity if, as a policy, we truly want to move forward the adoption of cleaner renewable energy

He explains that under current rules, to the extent that energy efficiency, storage, demand response, and distributed generation sources like rooftop solar decrease the need for new investment in power plants and electricity infrastructure, utility company Taking renewable energy beyond net metering

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Finding a balance that keeps municipal utilities profitable while incentivizing investment in large-scale solar will certainly be a big part of the discussion going forward. But it’s also important that residential solar owners and potential owners also receive consideration. Only then can the uptake of solar solutions continue and a wider deployment of residential installed solar panels take place.

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