Friday, March 6, 2015

The Problem with Net Metering

In the better off parts of the world most people enjoy the benefits of electricity on demand 24 hour a day 365 days a year.  If you are reading this you most likely do as well.  Pretty much all of us (us being the lucky ones) are customers, but not all of us are producers.  In the past producing your own electricity was rarely practical.  Now day thing are different.    Now solar systems exists at prices in many people's reach.   This has created a new issue that needs to be addressed.   That issue is what compensation should people receive for putting their excess electric production on the grid.

In the Us right now a policy (or rather a series of similar policies) called net metering determines what they get.   Net metering basically means they can sell electricity back to the grid for the same price they would buy it for.   Currently it exists in 42 states although there are policy differences.  Here is a map from which lists the states that have it along with a grade for how good they think the net metering laws are in that state.

With net metering it's possible for people to bring their electric bill down to zero with only a small grid connection fee needing to be paid each year.

It's pretty easy to see what the problem is here.  Imagine what would happen if everyone did it.    If everyone brought their electric bill down to zero who would pay for the electric service they would all still be using during the night time, when it cloudy or a times during winter.  They would all essentially be using service without paying for it which obviously wouldn't work.  Now imagine if half the people did it.   Half the people aren't paying for the electric service leading the other half to foot the bill.   This is inequitable and it gets worse if you think about little more.  The half of the people able to afford the solar system and having to space to install them will be the better off people.  The poor people living in apartments would end up footing a larger part of the bill.  This is simply not right.

People putting solar on their roof is a choice and the amount of money they receive for their excess electricity should not increase or decrease other people electric bill.  In order to make this happen I propose that their needs to be an impartial independent regulatory body that examines all the evidence and determines what the proper compensation should be. 

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