The Missouri House Utilities Committee held the first in a series of discussions on proposed fees for residential solar customers.
The fees were introduced as part of HB 539, legislation from Rep. Jeff Knight (R). The bill would require customers using solar panels to pay a fee and would add a grid access fee for customers who sell generated energy back to their utility.
The bill also would require equipment to meet a certain standard and for retail electric suppliers to allow consumers to use the energy they generate whenever they need it.
Knight told the local press, “I’m not against solar; I’m not here to kill jobs. I’m simply here for fairness in the industry.”
He argued that net metering solar customers should be looked upon to help fund the system involved in delivering electric power. He explained the bill as an attempt to establish a cost to grid usage.
Grid access charges are not the only type of fee typically imposed on residential solar customers, but all such fees carry the potential to cripple a region’s distributed solar market. In Missouri, a state with just 281.5 MW of installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), residential solar has been a consistent source of new capacity.
SEIA predicts that the state will add 851 MW in capacity over the next 5 years, a volume that could be hampered if the proposed fees are enacted.
During the bill’s next scheduled hearing, set to take place next week, representatives from Renew Missouri are expected to testify against HB 539. HB 539 has also faced opposition from some of the state’s residential installers, who say that pinning any necessary grid upgrades onto solar customers moves the state in the wrong direction.
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