A group of Florida homeowners petitioned the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) challenging Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) net metering approval process. The petition was denied by the FPSC, and one of the petitioners has challenged the decision before the Florida Supreme Court, claiming that the utility corporation has been allowed by the FPSC to act as a regulatory body and has failed to promote residential solar energy systems and net metering.
The argument boils down into three main points of contention:
- By enforcing an unadopted corporate policy to limit net metering system size based on 115% past annual consumption, FPL acts as a regulatory agency with the open approval of the FPSC.
- The FPSC is overstepping its authority by granting utility corporations the discretionary authority to impose insurance policies with a covarage of up to 1 million dollar on net-metered solar system larger than 10 kW in capacity.
- FPSC enforces an “As-Available-Energy” compensation scheme for surplus solar electricity generation beyond self consumption. This practice dismisses the undeniable costs associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
The complaint originated when one of the petitioners, Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt, was informed by FPL that a solar system of his, a system he designed and installed himself, would have its net metering approval withdrawn due to “system oversizing.”
According to FPL’s annual consumption policy, “Systems should not be sized so large that energy produced by the renewable generator would be expected to exceed 115% of the customer’s annual kWh consumption.” Ginsberg-Klemmt asserted that the tenants at his rental property would be purchasing electric vehicles, and that the corresponding charging infrastructure would easily meet the demand. FPL withdrew the net-metering approval for this residence based on the 115% guideline, but the solar system has continued to generate solar electricity without FPL’s approval for over a year, and, according to Ginsberg-Klemmt, has been participating in net metering.
A third solar system which Ginsberg-Klemmt had planned but had not yet constructed was denied based on the same corporate FPL guidelines, so he ironically proposed electric heaters to heat the outside air at the site in order to generate the necessary electricity demand needed in order to pass the officially endorsed net-meter permitting requirements.
“It’s not a rule,” Ginsberg-Klemmt told pv magazine. “If it were a rule, it would be officially ratified, the PSC would have had to vote on it, it’s not a rule. Basically, the 115%, that’s the FPL board coming up with a guideline and nobody complains… The fact that everybody kind of accepts FPL as an authority is ridiculous. What do they have to say about my installation? It’s my home, they’re not authorized to tell me anything.”
Ginsberg-Klemmt continued to insist that FPL should not be allowed to limit the size of solar systems as long as they are sized below 90% of the permitted electric panel power rating.
Additionally, FPL customers who wish to install and operate solar systems which are adequately sized to power their electric cars and cover most or all of their electricity needs, 10KW to 100KW, must select the “Tier 2” category for their interconnect agreements. Concurrently, these homeowners have to add liability insurance to the economic equation of their Tier 2 solar systems, which inevitably drags the economical break-even point further into the future.
Here, Ginsberg-Klemmt argues that FPSC’s Rule 25-6.065 (5)(e) grants Florida utilities the descretion to enforce a costly and unnecessary liability insurance requirement on customers who wish to install robust solar net metering systems.
“This liability insurance is so expensive that people cave in and just build an under 10 kW system because it’s a pain in the neck to build a bigger system. That’s the real problem, they discourage people from [building] big solar systems.”
He argues that bigger solar systems have smaller relative fixed costs than smaller systems, which allows for relatively quicker payback times, while also supporting other possible infrastructure investments, like EV chargers. By adding the cost of insurance, these improved economics are wiped out. In Ginsberg-Klemmt’s case, the insurance on his home system would cost roughly $677 annually.
Surplus generation compensation
Ginsberg-Klemmt points out that larger solar installations can send more energy to the grid when generating surplus electricity, helping to offset the system’s considerable cost. However, beyond the self-consumption limit, surplus electricity is currently credited under an “As-Available-Energy” rate of 2.5¢/kWh.
This is not an FPL-specific policy, it’s one employed by numerous utilities to prevent homeowners from installing systems wildly oversized to their homes in order to make significant net metering profits once the system has paid for itself. Arguments against this policy say that it is a non-issue, as the net metering rates paid by the utility will still be lower than the avoided cost incurred if the utility were to install a comparable system.
However, for Ginsberg-Klemmt, the issue is not that the credit is lowered, it’s that the credit is so low, in conjunction with the insurance fees that accompany a large installation, that it does little to offset the insurance costs and less to incentivize homeowners to install a system over 10 kW.
In this issue, Ginsberg-Klemmt argues that the “As-Available” rate should take into account greenhouse gas emissions costs and the high value of solar electricity generated during on-peak hours. In Florida, peak generation can extend closer to peak demand than in other areas of the country, where the sun starts to set and generation starts to die down just before peak demand. It’s because of this, Ginsberg-Klemmt attests, that solar is inherently more valuable, regardless of if it is excess — as it is eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions that fossil generation would produce at the same time.
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PG&E in California also has a 115% generation limit going to the grid tied system. However, off grid battery systems, that could also power your home and charge an Electric Car have no limits. Now Tesla is designing into the model 3 a two way battery charge and power systems so the car battery could be used as part of solar storage system for $50.00 more than a charge only battery pack. With utilities getting more restrictive and battery systems getting cheaper. getting a transfer switch and disconecting from the grid when you have plenty of your own power and only transfering back to the grid when our system does not supply enough for your home but never sending any power to the grid makes more sence.
“>With utilities getting more restrictive…”
We all are letting the utilities get more restrictive and why do we accept their regulatory authority unopposed?
Maybe a solar system owner in California should file a similar PSC petition and appeal the decision it gets denied? Just take our pleadings as templates.
In 2016 Amendment 1 in Florida was pushed hard by FP&L and Duke Energy. These entities spent millions of dollars on their campaigns. The voters at large rejected their proposal, lo and behold, now FP&L and Duke are embracing alternative energy. FP&L couldn’t get the Florida State Constitution changed to protect its “regulated monopoly”, GW of solar PV and energy storage is now an epiphany of energy for the future. Now FP&L assumes they have a “superior” argument with the FPSC to foist liability insurance on a “private” distributed energy generation resource, that the utility doesn’t pay for property to construct the solar PV on, no rights of way meetings and votes, FP&L doesn’t pay for the system, install, maintain, repair, insure this system all “avoided costs” and NON of FP&L’s business. That idiot 115% argument is ill conceived and criminal in its promotion. Any excess energy pushed back onto the grid from the solar PV generation goes right next door or down the street to the neighbor’s home without solar PV. That means IF FP&L is actually “fair”, then those ratepayers without solar PV that use solar PV during the day should have all TD&D and fuel charges removed from every solar PV generated kWh of energy used during the day. Is this happening, NO.
“Here, Ginsberg-Klemmt argues that FPSC’s Rule 25-6.065 (5)(e) grants Florida utilities the discretion to enforce a costly and unnecessary liability insurance requirement on customers who wish to install robust solar net metering systems.”
The insurance for the PV system should be a “rider” on the homeowners insurance policy and is NONE of FP&L’s business at ANY level. Who is the “beneficiary” of this “liability insurance”, FP&L?
“This liability insurance is so expensive that people cave in and just build an under 10 kW system because it’s a pain in the neck to build a bigger system. That’s the real problem, they discourage people from [building] big solar systems.”
““It’s not a rule,” Ginsberg-Klemmt told pv magazine. “If it were a rule, it would be officially ratified, the PSC would have had to vote on it, it’s not a rule. Basically, the 115%, that’s the FPL board coming up with a guideline and nobody complains… The fact that everybody kind of accepts FPL as an authority is ridiculous. What do they have to say about my installation? It’s my home, they’re not authorized to tell me anything.””
FP&L’s latest move is the cheesy, slimy, attempt to dilute residential solar PV, which would allow FP&L to install their own “clipped” solar PV projects, curtail the non-fueled generation when “they” want and allow high priced fueled generation online to ramp around grid demands.
Folks like Ginsberg-Klemmt will figure out sooner or later, that splitting their system into two distinct units can be the answer. Split the house circuits into two house circuit breaker panels. One will be house loads and high surge loads that grid tied solar PV will supplement with grid power to run. A break before make transfer switch could feed the secondary load center if the solar PV fails or needs maintenance. So, 10K or under grid tied and 10K or over off grid with energy storage to keep some house circuits powered even when the utility grid fails. It’s not about ROI anymore, it’s about a middle finger in the air and a hand on the crotch saying to FP&L sometimes called Florida Plunder and Loot, “I got your regulation right here”.
Go get’em Solarman. My system is built just like you say 8,000 watts “off grid” on batteries and when my Tesla Glass Solar Roof is compleat. 7,800 watts to the Grid. The old generator transfer swich poweres half my home as back up.
Thanks for your comments SolarMan,
“>Folks like Ginsberg-Klemmt will figure out sooner or later, that splitting their system into two distinct units can be the answer.”
Not sure if you read our Initial Brief on merits. In case you did not, here is the link:
Home batteries are expensive and so are Tesla cars’s. Our solar systems are optimized to reach the financial break even point as soon as possible. If solar systems become an expensive hobby, they will only be used by rich people with lots of extra cash in their pockets.
We bought three used Nissan Leaf’s which had their original batteries replaced and this cost us less than one Tesla. As soon as the bi- directional Chademo chargers become affordable, we will start using the cars as backup for power outages.
100 amp hour lead acid batteries at Wal-Mart cost $74.99 Each. You need one for every 100 watts of solar. My 8,000 watt off grid PV system uses 80 – 100 watt panes and 80 – 100 amp hour batteries because we use 40 Kilowatt hours per day average. The batteries last 7 years when charged and discharged daily. I figure the replacement cost on my batteries costs $100.00 per month. My utility electric bill, before my off grid system, would be $320.00 to $380.00 per month. Now my Electric utility bill is $90.00 to 120.00 per month and that is at 30 cents per Kilo watt hour here in California.
It took me 12 years to build my system a little at a time. Today, right now as i am posting, I am running 2- 10,000 BTU air conditioners, 6 refrigerated wine coolers, 3 full size refrigerators, 1 feezer and a stand alone Ice machine and my Utility meeter is only reading 300 watts because everything is hooked up off grid with 4 -2,000 watt modifies sine wave inverters and 3 – 700 watt pure sine wave inverters plus many UPS units that I have replaced the 4 amp hour battery with a large copper cable and fuzes going to the 8,000 amp hour, 12 volt battery bank for table lamps. Only the built in cieling light fixtures, electric clocks and this computer i am use to make posts is connected to the grid at this time. With remote control wall plugs, I can switch the UPS units back on the grid if I ever run short of battery power and that happens when we have long winter storms in December through February or at night if we have used up the power durring the day on laundry, cooking or dishes. All my 220 volt appliances, oven, stove top, electric dryer are still hooked up to the utility grid because 10,000 watt 220 volt inverters are so expensive.
I am a retired IBEW Inside Wireman electrician, so, solar is my hobbie and it pays for it’s self over time here in California where tiered rates have cost me up to 48 cents per kilo watt hour. Some day residential Solar and Batteries will be affordable and the batteries will last longer and be modular enough to be “Plug andf Play” just like UPS batteries are “Hot Swapable” today. Net metering will go away because either it will go away or the utilities would go away for lack of money. I expect we will have a 3 for 1 exchange rate for all power we don’t use ourselves and send to the grid since 70% of my utility electrical bill is for transmition and overhead and only 30% for power.
More people need to risk up and fight these monopolies discouraging renewable energy as it negatively impacts their bottom line (in some cases). I am one of the original petitioners in from the FL PUC the had our petition denied. Achim is a remarkable guy (and an electrical engineer who is well qualified to argue many of the points in this case). FL has one of the lowest adoption rates of all states due to the restrictive policies that have discouraged or forbidden it’s growth here. This is because of the overcapacity of the power industry’s fossil fueled pollution spewing powerplants. They don’t make money if they are not running. The only time they benefit is when it lowers peak demand and the capital needed to build expensive ‘peaker’ plants. The story is different in places like New England where MA solar adoption rate is much higher and seems supported by the industry. This likely is due to the fact that they need expensive capital investment to grow their regular generation capacity to handle the loads there. So in that case solar is encouraged and not restricted.
Solar and renewable energy advocates need to risk up and press for federal policy that mandates things like max size of systems, insurance requirements and especially the rate paid by utility for any excess production should include AS THE LAW IN FL STATES the avoided costs of pollution, debt service, capital equipment to produce that capacity. Now it seems to only cover the fuel cost or wholesale power purchase on commercial markets. Solar energy is more valuable than fossil fuel energy, it doesn’t have the environmental and health costs of fossil fuels. We can’t leave the power companies to decide-they don’t have the interests of the world or society they have their own profit motives and executive compensation to protect. We need to EN courage renewables and DIS courage fossil and other non renewable energy forms and make it economically advantageous with carbon taxes and renewable credits to shift things to the proper place for the benefit of society in the long term.
You are correct. More people should get “off grid” switchable to “on grid” systems with battery back up and when the utility gives them a bad time, cut off the utility so the utility gets ZERO KWHr of sales an then their bottom line will be really be hurt. Just have a back up gasoline generator and transfer switch for days when solar does not work and you can purchase the backup generator with the Federal Tax Credit that does “NOT required” you connect to the Utility Grid.
Solarman, you are right on with your suggestion. You should net meter whatever load you can and build as much solar as you want off the grid and store it. Unfortunately, that is not the aim here. You can do that in Florida and FPL (or any utility) cannot stop you. They can only limit the amount that is for “net metering.” He doesn’t want to build as much solar as he wants and use it, he wants FPL to buy it and at a price significantly higher that ““As-Available-Energy” rate of 2.5¢/kWh.” I’m pretty sure that is a state rule, not a guideline.
He’s going after the wrong party here. He needs Florida Legislature to change the rules, not the FPSC or FPL.
Ed, I’m definitely going to look into that Tesla Model 3 battery, that sounds incredible!
Thanks so much for chiming in:
“>He’s going after the wrong party here. He needs Florida Legislature to change the rules, not the FPSC or FPL.”
Please read the original pleadings. The FPSC is not following Florida Statutes with the rules they created and I believe we have sufficient evidence to demonstrate why:
“>Ed, I’m definitely going to look into that Tesla Model 3 battery, that sounds incredible!”
Don’t forget to look at the price tag of the battery and calculate how many kilowatt hours of electricity your solar panels need to produce to pay off this extra expense.
Read another article recently about a lobbying group called (NERC) that has filed a brief with FERC that is trying to force a determination that FERC should set rates of solar PV and use the wholesale electric rate. Basically instead of net metering, they want to insert net billing which is about 1/2 to 1/3 rd the net metering credit rate. By making it a Federal “mandate” it would void State net metering programs.
Reminds me of Star Wars, when Princess Lea says, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
@Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt: Thanks for the link to your pleadings, so many “legalize” skating arguments and no real “data” like the data you provided in your arguments.
Really FP&L claims ‘burdensome’ the distributed solar PV generation resource, really, REALLY? The business is 100 years old and unless those such as yourself rejects their propositions and attacks back, at their self important usury, we will all suffer. I’m noticing a LOT of electric utilities are making “claims” of residential solar PV is raising ratepayers rates on electricity and are NOT paying their fair share of TD&D costs. These rote utilities will use these excuses as long as they are able to file a rate case for “lost revenues” or “stranded assets”.
They will use these excuses as long as “they” don’t have to adhere to “fair practices” like when non-fueled solar PV is used by a neighbor, FP&L does not remove the fuel charges or the TD&D charges for every kWh of solar PV used in that ratepayer’s home during the solar PV generation portion of the day. I know for a fact that “copper wiring” running from the utility transformer to my house has already been paid for, so when my excess power goes next door to the neighbor, what TD&D charge is necessary? Excess solar PV pushed back onto the grid, the utility already knows how much that is every month and pretty much what time frame this was in, so why isn’t the fuel charges reduced by this amount also? Where oh where are those RICO statutes when you need them?
Keep up the good fight, sooner or later all of these utilities will try some leger domain in a court room or commission or even using the voter initiative process to “protect themselves”. Fools, this is the definition of a ‘disruptive technology’ and what happens when people fight back by implementing it for their own use. In the 1960’s the cry was “Power to the people”, a political announcement to get involved, today power to the people is literal and accessible by a majority of citizens in these United States.
Hi Solarman, Thank you for your competent and insightful remarks. My wife and I just filed the following Motion to Intervene on the FERC docket EL20-42 concerning the NERA initiative to kill net-metering on the federal level:
I believe you still see the value in net-metering without costly home batteries for the general public and hope that you will join the intervening parties on this docket. We can still buy batteries a few years later, but let’s roll now.
When the sun sets on net metering, those who want a cleaner, cooler planet will need to go “OFF GRID”. Energy storage will need to be made less costly and more user friendly.
Having installed an off grid system myself, the net cost of materials alone, averaged over 28 years, or the life of 4 replacement batterie sets and one compleat set of solar panels on a 8,000 watt solar and 80 HWHr of lead acid batteries is 16 cents per kilo watt hour produced, stored and used. (this is after 13 years of testing). Labor for checking battery fluid levels, washing solar panels, swapping out weak batteries etc. also not included because I have been doing these things myself. In California, where the utility PG&E charges about 30 cents per kilo watt hour in a tiered system on 1000 kilo watt hours per month home, it pays to build an off grid system when and if they no longer offer Net metering.
The problem is the Grid it’s self. 70% of the 30 cents they charge is for transmission, maintenance and taxes, Only 30% is for actual power and that is marked up from 2.5 cents per kilo watt hour to 8.5 cents per kilo watt hour. After the Republican led de-regulaion, in 1991, and the Ennron energy crisis, PG&E has been in debt and must service it’s loans via the rate payers. Where El Paso power can supply power at 9 cents per kilo watt hour to homes, PG&E must charge 30 cents per kilo watt hour to cover it’s debt and costs as a “Private Company”. Net metering is an added burden so people without net metering must pay for the infrustruction, debt and labor costs the net metering people DON”T PAY. With the California mandate of every new home must have solar, the burden will pass more to non-solar customers if there are no changes made to “NET METERING”. If the 70% holds true for infrastructure, the solar produced by home, without battery storage would need to be…for every 3 kilo watt hours you give the utility durring the day, you get ONE kilo watt hour back at night to carry your FAIR share of the infrastructure burden in California.
> ” He doesn’t want to build as much solar as he wants and use it, he wants FPL to buy it and at a price significantly higher that ““As-Available-Energy” rate of 2.5¢/kWh.”
Your assumption isn’t correct. Please read the pleading. WE are not looking to get rich off the energy we sell back to FPL. We are allowed to build our system 115% of past usage, but the fact is the sun doesn’t always shine every day and there are weeks and even months when even a robust system such as ours doesn’t generate sufficient energy for our use. We are looking to generate the equivalent of ALL our usage. By selling our excess energy on good days, we are offsetting the amounts we use on our less good days. FPL still makes a pretty profit off any energy we sell back, just not as much.
I see your point and agree. My first system was in California in 2005. The net metering program was in the PPA at a 1 to 1 rate credit for every kWh of electricity pushed back onto the grid. My (initial) PPA was a year to year and at the end of my contractual year the account was “zeroed” out, called excess power relinquishment. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that forced all PPAs to allow “either” rolling over the energy credits every year or pay off excess credits at the going utility rate at the end of the contract year. Like you I’m not in the energy business, so I chose electricity credit roll over. When I had to replace my 20 year old air conditioning units in 2010, my energy credit increased and rolled over year after year. When we sold the house, the utility cashed out our credits and we received $3,300 from the utility after escrow closed.
Now the utility I’m connected to now “allows” 7 cents to 8cents/kWh of excess energy credit and sells the electricity back to me at 12 cents to 16 cents/kWh. I still get “credits” that are higher than any particular month’s actual demand. So, some months have a nominal bill from $40 to $80 and other months the electric bill is $0. Until the utility changes the “metering” program, right now it looks like we can cut our energy bills by about two thirds by having some months with a “low” electric bill and other months with no electric bill. I have room on the garage for another 12kWp of D.C. only solar PV to feed a smart ESS for after hours and backup power on critical circuits in the home. Right now I am saving up for the panels and smart ESS, when I pull the trigger, it will hit the target and we will become self sufficient without being “off grid”, but will have enough of a system to actually “off grid” critical house circuits for extended power outages.
Please look at my post above. Net metering is pulling money out of non-solar customers pockets to pay for the billion dollar Grid infrastructure. the energy portion is only 30% of the total cost to run an electric utility. These costs are spread among all of the rate payers except Net Metering customers. You would not expect a grocery store to buy your apples at 3 to 5 times the price what they can get them from the Farmer do you? That is what NET METERING is doing and everyone else gets charged higher prices to make up for it. If you want more solar energy for your home, build an “off grid” system and use a much power as you want only switching on the grid when you run short of solar energy or for your 220 volt needs. I use 1,200 to 1,400 kilo watt hours per month but only buy 500 to 600 kilo watt hours of 220 volt power from my utility. The rest comes from my batteries, charged up by my solar panels and off grid inverters. It takes work to maintain a “power Ststion” at my home, but, as a retired IBEW inside wireman, I enjoy it.
If you know nothing about electricity and do not want to work at maintaining your own solar facility, then remember all of those who bring that power right into your home and all you have to do is turn on that switch or appliance and they do the rest. Net metering was a bad idea from the start but it was the only way to get people to get on board with clean energy when solar panels were $ 5.00 per watt for the panels and $8.00 per watt installed. Today they are less than $1.00 per watt for the solar panel and about $3.50 per watt installed. More efficient solar panels requires fewer of them be installed so there is less labor.
Achim-you are on top of things! Thank you for so actively fighting for solar rights and against the back door policy creation that could severely damage renewables and the investment we have and intend to make in the future as well.
Responding to Edward:
>If the 70% holds true for infrastructure, the solar produced by home, without battery storage would need to be…for every 3 kilo watt hours you give the utility durring the day, you get ONE kilo watt hour back at night to carry your FAIR share of the infrastructure burden in California.
This above vision is exactly what the utility corporations want and not a “fair share.”
While solar farms have to pay lease fees for the usage of federal lands now, the utility corporations get to use massive amounts of public lands for free to place their power lines and in addition to this unwarranted subsidy, they are granted the entitlement to operate their business in a protected market. All the utility corporations need to do is charge their costs and expenses to the public. Why should the electricity market be modeled after a risk free socialist planned economy, while we teach our children that competition in a free market is the better way to go? The utility corporations do not own the grid. The electric grid is build on public lands and was paid for by the rate payers.
Thank you for this post, Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt. I am just learning today from my solar contractor Momentum Solar, that I have to obtain proof of $1 million dollars in personal liability insurance for my solar panels. My homeowner’s policy maxes out at $300K and now I’m facing hundreds of dollars to pay for additional insurance I do not need. My homeowner’s representative stated she did not see the need for such excessive coverage because the panels are attached to the house and are already covered.
When I called FPL to ask what the $1M covers the representative didn’t understand why I needed it and forwarded me to the Net Metering department. When I got to that department the representative there couldn’t articulate what the coverage was actually for and could only tell me that it was required. She then said she would forward my concern to her supervisor because maybe they understood it more.
I then called my personal insurance rep who was also confused about the high coverage and stated as an individual the only this she could think of was getting an umbrella policy, which could be very expensive.
I entered this solar journey with the intention of saving money, but this whole process has been very discouraging and more costly than I could ever imagine. Thank you for standing up to FPL. I support you and I hope that there is a fair and positive resolution to this all. At this point, I can’t even recommend Solar to my friends. Maybe one day I will be able to.
Hope you are well FPL is creating this need for insurance that is unique in character. Progressive has a limited liability policy that is a fraction of the cost. You only need to gap the 1mm. Example, if you currently have 300k in personal liability you would need additional 700k. Umbrella policy is not the way to go. The gap coverage is getting cheaper each month because it is next to impossible to actually have an applicable claim.
Does anyone know if there are liability insurance requirements for solar in other states besides FL?
I’m having the same issue. They want an extra $1 million personal property on my homeowners insurance; here in Florida that is A LOT OF MONEY for the premium, which makes solar an expense. What’s going on? They are holding 3 months worth of funds…. That’s right, I’m paying the contract and getting no money for the power AND paying the utility bill.
Does anyone know how the Fla. Supreme Court Ruled on this Petition?
can i file lawsuit against fpl for taken power and new net metering rules they make up as they do every month minum charge hose up
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