While new residential solar customers of Idaho Power are still in limbo awaiting whatever policy will replace net metering, a substantial decision has been reached regarding existing net-metered projects.
The Idaho Public Service Commission (PSC) has amended an earlier ruling from its December 2019 decision to deny Idaho Power’s net metering replacement rates, deeming that the “grandfathered” net-metering rate given to a system installed before the date of that decision is applied to the installation and not the customer.
Specifically, the decision states, “The Commission will apply grandfathered status to the system site as opposed to the customer. The Commission also clarifies that a customer who owns a grandfathered system can add another system on their property, with the new system qualifying for the net-metering program in place at that time, without jeopardizing the original system’s grandfathered status.”
It is unclear exactly how many customers this amendment will affect, but it is meaningful — as it makes the legacy rate untouchable on those systems until Dec. 20, 2045.
Just as impactful, the PUC also denies the petitions for reconsideration made by Idaho Conservation League, Vote Solar, Idaho Clean Energy Association and others. This petition requested that the PSC extend the legacy rate treatment to any new customers with a system installed before the new rates are instituted. So, as it stands, any Idaho power customer that wants to install rooftop solar is still waiting in limbo for the new rates, with no reason to install until that decision is reached.
Proponents of rooftop solar in Idaho claim that the market uncertainty created by this period of compensation limbo could cause negative effects on the state’s residential solar industry, even after the new rates are instituted.
“Unfortunately, Idaho families and businesses that choose to go solar today will not have clarity on how or if they will be compensated for excess energy they provide to the grid,” said Briana Kobor of Vote Solar. “Effectively, this means that customers do not have a choice. Without clear signals from the Commission they are left in a state of limbo.”
As for the compensation system that will replace net metering, the case is still proceeding under the PUC’s order requiring a study to be completed about the the net benefits and shortcomings of residential solar in the state.
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[“Effectively, this means that customers do not have a choice. Without clear signals from the Commission they are left in a state of limbo.”] Nah, customers have an ever clearer choice now. They will do like many are doing — installing solar+storage and forgetting about back-feeding to the grid allowing the utility to steal their investment $$$ and sell it to their neighbors for $$$. Buy a single vendor solution like Enphase’s Ensemble with Encharge with IQ8 micros. I’m a lucky NEM customer with an Enphase 20,000-Watt AC solar system, but the way to go now is solar+storage; of course the ROI will take longer, but regardless the energy system is a serious hedge against inflation. The utility companies want to keep you on the power plantation; don’t let them.
“…The Commission also clarifies that a customer who owns a grandfathered system can add another system on their property, with the new system qualifying for the net-metering program in place at that time…”
If this is accurate, then I’m curious how exactly utilities are going to be able to track the output of a net-metered system, when part of the output is grandfathered under one set of rate terms, and the other (newer) part of the system falls under different terms?
Responding to last paragraph:
Studying now is outdated immediately, because electric storage is just starting to ramp up. The study will be worthless.
“Proponents of rooftop solar in Idaho claim that the market uncertainty created by this period of compensation limbo could cause negative effects on the state’s residential solar industry, even after the new rates are instituted.”
This is another ‘way of’, reducing the value of a residential solar PV system. There have been many attempts to dilute the value of a personal solar PV system by electric utilities employing ‘net billing’, TOU rate spiking or tiered electricity rates. This is where the solar PV industry needs to address value dilution with packaged systems that can be programmed to address what the utility is doing at the time. Many of the new smart ESS have the ability to program solar PV generation to charge the battery pack during the solar PV peak generation portion of the day and use that power to offset or eliminate a TOU rate spiking period of the day, usually after 3PM and until 9PM every day. An example is Sonnen ecolinx. This unit has the hybrid inverter, battery charger, and battery pack in one cabinet. It can be controlled by smart app on a smart phone, programmed for high electricity rate times of the day or night and can be used for arbitrage when the battery pack can be charged from off peak or super off peak electricity from the utility and used before the solar PV system begins it generation peak of the day.
The smart BESS is expensive and yet with the programmable flexibility, can hold its (value) while the electric utility ‘plays games’ with electricity rates and programs.
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