Home solar panels have considerable value for everyone
Another study commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) a proactive advocacy group representing solar companies and over 100,000 rooftop solar customers has once again revealed that rooftop home solar panels provide a benefit to the grid and everyone connected to it. The study was prepared by utility industry analysts and utility experts to determine if net-metering was in fact a fair way to compensate solar customers for the occasional excess energy their solar panels generate. This study now joins the handful of other studies that have been similarly conducted that prove, locally supplied and consumed, solar energy has significant benefits to the grid. In fact, when weighed against the costs the positive benefits, when including societal benefits such as reduced pollution, actually exceed the retail rate.
The new study, conducted by Crossborder Energy in Berkeley, Calif., concludes that rooftop solar benefits are worth 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour. That value increases to 28 cents per kilowatt-hour if societal benefits like reduced pollution are included in the calculation.
Rooftop solar is under attack by incumbent utilities
America’s favorite billionaire grandpa, Warren Buffett, just completed his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. The company owns 10 large energy companies and in this letter he warned investors that “Solar and wind could erode the economics of the incumbent utility”, particularly those utilities who are operating inefficiently at high costs. Three years ago similar warnings began to be issued by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the utility trade association that represents the nation's investor-owned utilities (IOUs).
The result has been a systematic, strategic and considerably well funded attack on the cornerstone policy of net-energy metering. A concerted effort to erode the attractive economics of the consistently falling cost of rooftop solar -- rather than an effort to adopt a more efficient business model -- one designed to embrace their customers new found love of choice and clean energy (and an overall better product and service) -- the utilities have chosen to aggressively fight change.
The most recent tactic is to impose new mandatory minimum charges on all energy customers -- and if that doesn’t work -- discriminatorily impose charges only on rooftop solar customers. The new rooftop solar study aims to protect all customers against the inefficiency of the incumbent utility and their new path to protect their business model by reaching even more deeply into the pockets of the lower income and elderly with mandatory minimum charges.
In Florida, utilities and their proxy groups, to date, have spent over $6 million seeking to change the constitution to preserve their inefficient monopoly. Florida, like Arizona, is a popular retirement destination -- a safe haven for those to spend the greater part of their golden years -- living on a nest egg of hard work -- who statistically do not consume much energy -- folks who clearly did not sign up for a mandatory fee as a part of their retirement package.
Net Metering provides simple fair rates for customers
The study will be used by the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) in a rate hearing to guide staff and commissions in making decisions. Net-Metering is supported not only by solar industry groups but also by dozens of other organizations from AARP to the NAACP. Net Metering, like rollover minutes or rollover data, provides Americans with a clear, stable, rate at which they can self consume and receive credit for the occasion excess energy their solar system generates it provides customer with freedom, choice and considerable financial savings.
And according to numerous studies, including the most recent, the choice to go solar has a positive impact on everyone – except the shareholders of poorly run utilities.