Louisiana on the Brink of Dismantling Net Metering

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Louisiana’s Public Service Commission (PSC) will vote this Wednesday, April 17th on whether to preserve or dismantle net metering in the state. The vote will answer the central question in the net metering docket (LPSC Docket number: R-31417) – how valuable is the solar energy produced from net-metered solar systems?

At Vote Solar, we’re fans of actually studying this question by looking at real data (like we did in California) before coming out with an answer. That is not the plan of action that the Louisiana PSC has followed in this docket. According to the final staff report issued April 5th, there is “insufficient information to quantify benefits [of net metering]and if the Commission wished to undertake such quantification, in should entertain a more thorough cost-benefit study.” – Staff final report, pg. 8

Yet, even without data, the staff is recommending an immediate vote on the net metering policy this week. Throughout staff’s final report it is clear that they have already predetermined that Louisiana net metering will be no more.

Nevermind that net metering benefits everyone (except maybe the utility powers-that-be that want to protect their old way of doing business):

  • Solar customers: homes, schools and businesses can lower their energy bills by investing in solar.
  • Non-solar customers: More rooftop solar means utilities have to invest less in power plants and other expensive infrastructure, savings they can pass on to all their customers.
  • Workers: local jobs & local investment: Rooftop solar keeps energy dollars invested right in your own community rather than the pockets of big energy companies.
  • Everyone: energy security, public health and environmental benefits.

TAKE ACTION HERE to protect net metering if you live in Louisiana!

Vote Solar is working with the Alliance for Affordable Energy in Louisiana to encourage Louisianans to take action now to stop the PSC Commissioners from taking a vote on this important subject without having adequately studied the issue. Across the state there are only 1,400 net -metered solar systems, representing under 0.5% of the utilities peak demand. Before the PSC votes to dismantle the policy that is encouraging growth of distributed generation renewable resources in their heavily coal-dependent state, we are asking for the State to actually study the benefits that such resources bring to the electric system.

Our ally on the ground isn’t mincing words. Forest Wright, Regulatory Director for the Alliance for Affordable Energy tells it like it is: “Commissioner Holloway is using shoddy facts to excuse wiping out thousands of dollars of investment for solar families. This is nothing but a power grab for utilities.”

The final staff report lays out four options for the Commission to choose between regarding what credit net-metered customers should be given when they export clean, local solar power back to the grid. Below are the options the Commissioners will vote on this Wednesday.

Excess net metering generation should be credited at:

1) A rate less than the utility’s avoided cost (um, hello this is clearly illegal under PURPA);

2) A rate equal to avoided cost (Really PSC staff? Clean, local solar energy is just as valuable as dirty imported coal? Really?);

3) A rate above avoided cost but less than retail; or,

4) A rate equal to retail rate.

Unless the PSC is ready to show us a report that shows that retail credit isn’t fair credit for solar power, we think option 4 is the right approach.

If you have any friends, family or heck even acquaintances in Louisiana, please tell them about our action alert in support of protecting net metering.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.