Morning Brief: Net metering still under attack by utilities and institutional corruption


On Oct. 5, Utah’s Public Service Commission will begin hearings to determine exactly how much electricity generated from rooftop solar is worth, and you might be surprised at how far apart the opposing sides are on that question. Under a 2017 agreement, Rocky Mountain Power set the price at an average of 9.2 cents/kWh. But the utility says that’s too much and is asking the commission to set the rate it pays to homeowners much lower, an average of 1.5 cents/kWh. Rooftop solar advocates contend Rocky Mountain Power’s figure is far too low and doesn’t reflect the additional benefits of rooftop solar. The group Vote Solar did its own calculations and believes the actual value is 22.6 cents/kWh. Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

An anti-rooftop solar representative accepted over $20,000 from Florida utilities: Florida Representative Lawrence McClure asked the Florida Public Service Commission to review the rules and regulations related to customer-owned solar and net metering. The request, which McClure made on May 22, echoes utility claims that rooftop solar is a threat to low to middle-income Floridians, and followed McClure’s direct communication with Florida’s investor-owned utilities, as referenced in communications obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute. McClure attached to his request an anti-rooftop solar document produced by Energy Fairness, a utility front group. The Public Service Commission scheduled a workshop on net metering for next week, and depending on the outcome of the workshop, the PSC could open a rule-making docket and potentially change the rules governing net metering for Florida utilities.” Source: Energy and Policy Institute

As school districts struggle to adapt to a nationwide budget crisis brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak, many K-12 schools are shoring up budgets with a switch to solar power, often with minimal to no upfront capital costs. Since 2014, K-12 schools saw a 139% increase in the amount of solar installed, according to a new report from clean energy nonprofit Generation180, in partnership with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The report finds that 7,332 schools nationwide utilize solar power, making up 5.5% of all K-12 public and private schools in the U.S. Report here.

As a developer seeks approval to build five solar farms totaling up to 138 MW in capacity, local officials in South Carolina fixate on end-of-life disposal plans for the panels:  An unnamed developer is currently seeking a deal with Horry County officials to build five solar farms in the county in coming months, aiming to break ground in mid-2021. The potential deal could net the county up to $16.6 million over 30 years. But a big question remains: What to do with the solar panels when they become obsolete? By Some council members said they worry that the materials contained in the solar panels, once the panels are disposed of. “There’s not a landfill in the country that will take these things,” County Council member Johnny Vaught said at a recent council meeting. Source: Myrtle Beach Online

Don’t forget to register for the next pv magazine webinar: Is your company capturing the 2020 safe harbor? In partnership with Clean Energy Associates, the webinar will discuss the IRS’ Safe Harbor Provision for Solar Energy Projects and how to make sure you’re take advantage of it.

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