The Arkansas Public Policy Panel has issued a call for supporters of clean energy be heard at the state Public Service Commission tomorrow as it considers a request from electric utilities to reduce benefits for people who use solar power.
Said the Policy Panel:
Electric utilities are pressuring the Commission to reduce the amount of money that small consumers are credited when they generate excess energy, which will make those systems less affordable to most consumers. We think that consumers should earn the full retail rate for their excess energy that they pay when they need energy from utilities. ….
Net-metering is a utility industry term for a billing mechanism that allows customers who generate their own electricity from solar power or windmills to push electricity back out onto the grid when they have excess and receive credit from the power company for that electricity. Since net metering when into effect in 2000, customers have been credited the retail rate of electricity, or one-to-one kilowatt- hour. Due to pressure from electric utilities the PSC is considering reducing the compensation a customer receives for generating power. A reduction in compensation for net-metering would stifle advancements in clean energy upgrades on personal property.
The panel argues that keeping the retail rate helps give people more control over electric bills, encourages investments in clean energy and reduces strain on the electricity distribution system.
The utilities claim the rate needs to be reduced to cover the cost of serving those customers. Entergy Arkansas is making some major investments solar-generated power itself.