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First Solar, Inc. Message Board

  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jul 19, 2013 9:47 AM Flag

    The Solar Industry Responds to Utility Attacks on Net Metering

    The Solar Industry Responds to Utility Attacks on Net Metering

    The number of net metered solar systems has grown 46 percent since 2011.

    Herman K. Trabish: July 18, 2013

    A primer on net energy metering (NEM) from the solar industry explains why it is under attack by utilities across the country -- and explores how the two opposing sides might come to terms.

    “As the penetration of distributed solar generation increases, the debate on NEM policies and impacts is intensifying,” concluded the authors of a new report, Ratemaking, Solar Value and Solar Net Energy Metering-- A Primer, from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). “Utilities in some regions have observed distributed solar adoption at rates not previously forecast and are now seeing significant amounts of grid-tied solar on their systems.”

    “Between 2011 and 2012, the number of newly installed solar NEM systems increased from 61,400 to 89,620 -- a 46 percent annual growth rate -- bringing the cumulative total to 302,380 NEM systems,” the SEPA study reported. “By year end 2012, US solar generation under net metering totaled more than 3,500 megawatts-ac. It is striking to consider that in 2005, when EPACT passed, total grid-connected solar capacity nationwide was only about 200 megawatts-ac.”

    The utility industry is starting to think about these disruptive changes. As a recent report from the Edison Electric Institute concluded, "disruptive forces, if not actively addressed, threaten the viability of old-line exposed industries.”

    When NEM policies were first put in place to reimburse rooftop solar owners at retail rates for the electricity their systems send to the grid, there was little understanding of its impacts, according to SEPA’s primer. It was intended to promote distributed generation, but programs were capped, usually at a percent of a utility’s peak demand, “to monitor, evaluate, and evolve NEM policies over time.”

    NEM was not designed to assess solar value, SEPA reported: “Concerns about

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    • A very worrying trend indeed.

      Not so long ago, these coal-fired dinosaurs lied about the viability of solar, a unified front claiming that solar would never be viable.

      Now they're behaving very much like any other threatened monopoly, too late to the onslaught of technology, and having to eat their lies while doing their utmost to forestall the inevitable. NEM is just another myopic idea that ensures that the backlash from rooftop solar adopters will be without remorse. (And there's been no great love for the price gouging utilities on billing day, that's for sure.)

      Non-subsidized grid parity will be achieved, there can be no doubt per the trends in price/efficiency - similar to the evolution of the personal computer. Solar energy will be a fact of life in as little as 10 years. And the utilities will be left haggling with the remnants of local heavy industry for crumbs.

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