What is “net metering?”
Net metering is the legal framework that allows residents with solar panels to sell excess power back to “the grid.” Under this billing tool, the energy your solar panels produce and you don’t use, is credited back to you.
Created in 2008, the net metering rule was passed to jumpstart a nascent solar industry.
But as solar systems ballooned since 2008, some question the need to continue the program.
Former Public Service Commission Chair Lisa Edgar recently told a Senate committee — the first to hear the bill — that the state’s net metering rule worked very well at spurring rooftop solar adoption.
However, with more than 90,000 systems online (and counting), Edgar says it’s time for solar to enter a marketplace and lessen the burden on lower as well as middle-income families who currently subsidize the industry.
“If this subsidy is allowed to continue unchecked, cost of electricity to non-solar users will continue to increase, especially for those that can least afford higher bills,” Edgar said. It’s simply time to update “Net Metering,” she added, making it better and fairer for all Florida residents.
Edgar believes solar can remain affordable in Florida if the net metering reform legislation passes.
Solar customers will continue to be compensated for the energy they send to the grid. They will also receive substantial federal tax credits. Leasing options still exist to defray installation costs, and the overall cost of installing solar dropped substantially over the last decade.
Legislation is now moving through the legislature in Tallahassee to ensure solar and other renewables pay a proportionate share of their revenues to support the state’s energy infrastructure.
Subsidized solar appeared to strike a blow to utilities with the revelation an outside lobbyist sent Sen, Jennifer Bradley, the lead Senate sponsor of the new bill, legislative language that ended up in the bill that was introduced soon after.
To the public, such action may seem out of the ordinary. But to several lobbyists and members of the legislators Florida Politics spoke to, such bill drafts sent to both Republicans and Democrats by lobbyists and other interest groups, happen dozens of times every day, an ordinary occurrence in both the House and the Senate.
And Edgar is not alone.
Writing in the Palm Beach Post, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Julio Fuentes said many news outlets are arguing, “All electric customers in our great state should pay higher bills to subsidize the affluent minority who own solar panels.”
You heard that right: Newspapers are taking the position that all of us should pay more so that those who are able to afford solar panels pay less.
Fuentes, among others, contends that the actual cost of solar infrastructure has declined by 60% and the massive subsidies and tax breaks are unneeded. If solar wants to be in the residential power market, then it needs to be subject to the same maintenance and distribution mandates as other energy utilities.
Some activists and the rooftop solar industry (which makes millions each year), don’t see the income disparity; they don’t want subsidies to go away.
George Riley, state director for Conservatives for Clean Energy, recently argued: “If net metering is eliminated, it will shift rooftop solar into a luxury only affordable for the wealthy. That would be a giant step backward when we should be working to ensure that the free resource of Florida’s sunshine is available for all.”
According to former state Sen. John Grant, founder of Seniors Across America, the net metering bill debate is simply a matter of fairness.
“It’s simply not fair that the majority of hard-working Floridians and fixed income seniors should have to foot the bill for a small group of wealthy people who can afford solar panels,” Grant says.
Debate will undoubtedly heat up as Sine Die gets closer.
SB 1024 faces one more committee stop; HB 741 passed its first committee with two stops remaining.
February 9, 2022 at 1:29 pm
For seniors and those who live in condos & multi family housing where solar is not possible, they should not have to subsidize solar costs for the affluent in single, large residential homes
February 14, 2022 at 11:47 am
They’re not when those people aren’t that affluent and are providing your power. They produce electricity that feeds the grid. They are paying out of pocket for the panels. They deserve compensation.
February 9, 2022 at 4:41 pm
Paid shills advocating for utility companies are spreading tremendous amounts of FUD, and outright lies, all across the country. The utility companies are hiding behind their astroturfed “consumer groups” (they’re not consumers, they’re paid by the utility companies). Solar customers aren’t “wealthy elite”, they’re your neighbors. We live in the same middle-class neighborhoods, with the same cares and concerns, and expenses, as everyone else. Why isn’t anyone asking why utility companies keep raising their rates while neglecting their own infrastructure until it becomes even more expensive to repair? Then they want more and more from customers. But their management doesn’t forego their huge pay increases, do they?
STOP SPREADING UTILITY COMPANY LIES!
February 10, 2022 at 7:54 pm
It’s completely ordinary for a utility to send a senator the text of a bill for her to submit along with $22,500 in donations to her associated political committee. And why do associated political committees exist except to accept unlimited donations and/or obscure the source of those donations?
February 11, 2022 at 3:55 pm
Not only the wealthy have solar panels. We invested in solar panels in order to protect ourselves from the inflated cost of energy. We produce over 2,000KWH more than we used and got a total of $40 back last year. Duke just increased our bill over $240 a year just for having a connection so all the excess we produce is theirs for free. How is this right?
February 14, 2022 at 11:45 am
It’s not fair, and most of what’s in this article is a lie.
February 14, 2022 at 2:27 pm
I’m a snowbird,$30,000 invested to save .
Senior being scammed as 6mo of production will be stolen & sold by Duke & then they charge me $30/mo…..theft of service
Public service commission in bed with Duke
Any lawyers start a class action….please
February 11, 2022 at 10:27 pm
We’ve already beat down a misrepresented bill like this one promoted by the State’s energy monopolies in 2016. They’re going to keep trying to convince us to vote against distributed solar, and we are going to keep denying them by presenting facts.
February 14, 2022 at 11:45 am
So solar is cheap and affordable and doesn’t need subsidies but it’s also a burden imposed on the rest of us by the wealthy few who can afford it?
Talking points are stupid, especially when they’re just about protecting the money of people who are already rich.
We need solar. It needs to expand even more. We just need to mandate that all new homes and commercial buildings be solar powered. At some point, and it’s not now, but it will come, yes, the transition will be painful for those who are on the grid. Subsidies will eventually need to end or be funded a different way.
Not until solar is providing much more of our electricity, however.
Charles M Buckmaster
February 14, 2022 at 11:53 am
I am paying still on my solar installation it was not free yes it has reduced my cost in electric service yet like so many other solar customers I am not elite or rich but chose solar as way to protect myself against rising utility costs now legislation will dictate that protection void if allowed to pass. Lets be real here any excess power my solar produces is power utility companies sell and charge others for without expense and I guarentee I have not seen any reembursment for it ever.
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