Wyoming lawmakers advanced a piece of legislation that, if passed, would repeal the state’s decades-old net metering system and direct the state’s utility regulators to create a new program.
Regulators would be better able than the legislature to craft a new system that benefits all ratepayers, according to lawmakers who sit on the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions standing committee.
If passed, the legislation would no longer require utilities to pay customers for generating excess electricity. It also would grandfather in net metering customers who have installed wind or solar systems before July 1, 2022.
The state’s current net metering policy is capped at 25 kW, which is sufficient for most residential and commercial customers in the state. Past efforts to increase this limit were met with strong opposition. Any credit left at the end of the calendar year by a net metering customer is purchased at the utility company’s avoided cost, which is about 25% of retail cost.
Supporters of Senate File 16 argue that net metering customers receive a subsidy under the present system and shift costs on to other ratepayers.
“It’s the position of our company that a subsidy does exist,” Jon Cox, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, was quoted as saying. He said the company could buy more affordable utility-scale solar and wind energy in the open market, rather than from net metering customers.
The Office of Consumer Advocates and utilities like Rocky Mountain Power and Black Hills Energy reportedly expressed support for the legislation.
Opponents argued that the subsidy, when it does exist, is small, and that residents who invest in clean energy should be encouraged, not deterred, by the state.
Steff Kessler, a senior conservation advocate at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, was quoted as saying that the bill would “essentially kill” small-scale solar in Wyoming. She asked the committee to table the bill and research the issue more deeply.
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