Generally at SolarPowerRocks.com, we see the beer mug half full. Our cup runneth over with solar’s potential in a growing number of states. But as Dan Hahn’s recent 2009 State By State Solar Report Card shows, we’ve still got a long way to go in many regions, and I personally have a concern about “net metering” going away.
Why should you care if net metering goes away? We’ve defined net metering in other posts, but it’s essentially a virtual battery back-up for your solar. With most parts of the U.S., you don’t need to buy batteries to store the extra power your solar panels produce. Instead, net metering requires your utility to keep track of any excess energy your panels produce during the day and then lets you buy it back at night, usually at the same or lower price per kWh. Sweet.
At the end of the year, if your panels have produced more power than you’ve used during the entire year, sometimes the utility is required to pay you for that extra solar mojo, and sometimes the utility is allowed to say Tough Twinkies and pockets the power without compensating you a dime.
We believe that net metering is important for solar remaining affordable. Without it, your payback time for your solar investment basically doubles.
Here’s the problem: Most states have put a ceiling on the number of customers allowed to have net metering. Currently in my home state of California, that ceiling or “cap” is set at 2.5% of the utility’s electric capacity. The good and bad news is that places like San Francisco and San Diego have inspired so many people to go solar that these areas have almost reached their net metering cap. If the State doesn’t pass a new law that says that the utilities have to raise that cap, it will basically shoot new solar customers in the foot.
Here’s the solution(s): The most obvious solution is to go solar sooner rather than later. Again, we don’t like to scare people, but the reality is that there’s only so much rebate money allotted, number one, and number two, there’s only so much net metering allotted unless your State gets its solar act together. It could happen…or not.
The second solution is to sign up for email “action alerts” from organizations like votesolar.org. It’s free, but of course they wouldn’t mind a donation. Vote Solar is dedicated to fighting for net metering and other solar friendly policies in every state. When they email you their action alerts, take 2 minutes to fill out their automated forms. Your legislators will get an email from you and a nudge that you’re watching how they vote for or against solar.
Otherwise, like I said, if you can swing it, go solar now and get a quote from one of our local installers. You can check out your state to the right, but for the latest info, our installers can also give you the skinny on your particular local solar (un)friendly policies. It’s free, so couldn’t hurt. Thanks.
Last modified: December 28, 2018