Advocates Urge PSC Action to Protect Louisiana Solar Rights
POLL: 84% of Louisiana Voters Support Solar Credit Program
March 11th, 2014 – Baton Rouge, LA – Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization, and the Alliance for Affordable Energy are joining together with other local advocates in urging the Public Service Commission (PSC) to protect rooftop solar rights in Louisiana. The Commission is expected to vote this week on whether or not to strengthen or eliminate net metering, a widely supported program that gives customers fair, full credit for the excess energy they put back on the grid.
Net metering is one of the most important consumer rights for enabling Louisianans to generate their own power from the sun. Louisiana currently caps net metering participation at just 0.5 percent of each utility’s peak demand. Several utilities claim to have reached the caps, effectively slamming the brakes on continued rooftop solar growth. The PSC has an opportunity to act as soon as this Wednesday’s Business and Executive Meeting to raise the barrier and enable continued individual solar investment.
“Rooftop solar helps Louisiana families, schools, and businesses take charge of their power supply and their electricity bills like never before. Arbitrarily capping participation in net metering is anti-consumer and anti-economic growth,” said Nathan Phelps, Program Manager of DG Regulatory Policy at Vote Solar. “We encourage the LPSC to act in the interests of the Louisianans they serve by quickly clearing the way for continued individual investment in solar.”
A recent poll released by Vote Solar and the Alliance for Affordable Energy showed that Louisiana citizens overwhelmingly support the use and expansion of solar energy to power their homes and businesses. More than four out of five respondents support preserving retail net metering credits, as currently exists in the law, while three quarters are in favor of increasing the number of people allowed to participate in the solar net metering credit program.
Solar supporters urge the PSC to approve a proposal that would require utilities to stop rejecting new solar net metering applications while the Commission studies the calculation method and implementation of the current program.
An alternate proposal that will be voted on Wednesday would undo Louisiana’s existing net metering law by eliminating the credit solar owners receive at the end of the month for energy they generate and put onto the grid. Instead, solar owners would be required to sell all of the energy they put onto the grid to the utility at lower wholesale rates. Solar advocates oppose this proposal because it significantly undervalues the reliable, local clean energy that solar customers deliver to the grid for the utility to resell.
“This proposal to drastically slash the value of solar energy is completely out of step with Louisiana’s citizens, who overwhelmingly support solar net metering,” said Forest Wright, Utility Policy Director for the Alliance for Affordable Energy.” The decisions of the Public Service Commission, good or bad, financially affect virtually every family and business in Louisiana, so it’s critical that such policy choices be based on sound factual evidence – this proposal is not.”
“Rooftop solar keeps energy dollars invested in communities and creates local jobs. Raising the net metering cap and clearing the way for more private solar investment would help Louisiana tap into solar’s tremendous economic opportunity,” added Vote Solar’s Phelps.
Nationally, 2013 was another record year for solar with 41 percent annual growth according to the Solar Market Insight report released last week by SEIA and GTM Research. Solar was our nation’s second largest source of new electricity capacity, behind only natural gas. According to a census by The Solar Foundation, solar jobs grew 200 percent in Louisiana in 2013.
About net metering:
Like rollover minutes on a cell phone bill, net metering allows a solar customer’s electric meter to “spin backwards” ensuring that they receive credit on their utility bills for valuable clean power they put back on the grid. In place in 43 states, this simple billing arrangement is one of the most important state policies for clearing the way for customer investment in solar.
About Vote Solar:
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to foster economic opportunity, promote energy independence and address climate change by making solar a mainstream energy resource across the United States. Since 2002,Vote Solar has engaged at the state, local and federal levels to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale. www.votesolar.org
About the Alliance for Affordable Energy
The Alliance for Affordable Energy is a New Orleans-based non-profit organization that advocates for fair, affordable, environmentally responsible, community-based energy. The Alliance for Affordable Energy has conducted community education campaigns on energy issues, helped citizens and businesses become more energy efficient and promoted sustainable energy policy solutions since 1985. www.all4energy.org