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A draft rule, compiled by Acadian Consulting was proposed at the LPSC in late November to change the way Louisiana’s utilities compensate customers with solar on their roofs. Currently, customers who have solar receive a credit for every kilowatt-hour of power they send out to the grid. Those credits can be used to offset, typically on a one-to-one basis, the energy the customer uses at night when their solar panels are not producing, through a program called “net metering”.
The proposed change would eliminate the ‘net’ component and create a ‘2-channel billing system’ where the all of the energy produced from your solar panels would be credited to your account at an ‘avoided cost’ or below market value rate that the utility determines, and then all of the energy you consume would be charged at a ‘retail’ rate. This would eventually be true even for existing net metering customers, as the grandfather clause only covers the first five years. So even though residents signed up for net metering under a certain understanding, this proposal changes the rates for the consumer and likely increases their bills, meaning that their investments may not ‘pencil’ out in a reasonable timeframe.
Net Metering is a Net Benefit
Residential solar adds resiliency to the grid, can address times of peak usage and reduces the need for new power plants. Countless cost based studies across the country have shown that distributed energy resources, such as residential solar, benefit all energy consumers and is a major component of a successful energy future.
In terms of timing, we expect there will be an technical conference for stakeholders in the coming month, followed by a round of formal comments. Following that formal process, a draft rule will come before a vote at the LPSC this Spring.