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When you get deep enough into discussing rooftop solar arrays, one piece of jargon keeps coming up: net metering. It basically means the rate utilities pay when rooftop solar owners send power they don’t use back to the grid. And in much of the U.S., it’s under threat.
Across most of the U.S., utilities are required to pay rooftop solar customers for the excess power they generate. Those extra payments help customers pay off expensive solar panels, while utilities benefit by bringing in extra power.
As E&E News reports, those payments have been pretty substantial in most states — until now. In Arizona, a Republican-led utility commission wants to change what it says are currently “unsustainable” net metering rates. North Carolina also recently let utility Duke Energy cut what it pays solar customers for extra power, and other states including Colorado, Idaho and Wisconsin are considering changes. And California, a typically clean energy-friendly state, late last year slashed its net metering rates.
All those state decisions could be a big problem for the Biden administration, which is counting on homeowners to install rooftop solar arrays to meet its ambitious goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. And while federal incentives enacted through the Inflation Reduction Act, plus some state incentives, can still help reduce the cost of rooftop solar, reduced net metering payments are sure to eat into the benefits for potential customers.
More clean energy news
🏭 Fossil fuel’s peak is coming: The “unstoppable” global transition to clean energy means fossil fuel demand is set to peak before 2030, the International Energy Agency predicts. (NPR)
⚡ The grid gets going: The U.S. Department of Energy announced $3.5 billion in electric grid infrastructure grants to 58 projects across 44 states — the largest ever investment in the country’s electric grid. (Canary Media)
🚬 Natural gas’ big tobacco strategy: A new report shows how the natural gas industry downplayed health risks as it pushed for adoption of gas stoves in the 1970s, echoing tactics used by tobacco companies. (NPR)
🛢️ New fracking fears: New research on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas confirms earlier data that links the practice to an array of health harms, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and birth defects. (Inside Climate News)
🌬️ Wind power blowback: After the installation of the first turbine in the Vineyard Wind project, analysts predict U.S. offshore wind will eventually find its footing, but growth will likely be slower than earlier projections. (E&E News)
📜 Policy and more policy: While the Inflation Reduction Act has put the U.S. on track to halve emissions by 2030, more policy will be needed to reach net-zero by 2050, according to a new paper by the National Academies of Science. (Ars Technica)
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