Solar advocates set to challenge Wisc. regulators on net metering math

Dive Brief:

  • After granting crucial rate design changes to We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Madison Gas & Electric, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) is expected to hear a final challenge which could determine residential solar's growth in the state for the foreseeable future.
  • The expected challenge will ask the PSC to reconsider its decisions to allow We Energies and other utilities to “true up” net metered customers’ bill credits monthly instead of annually. With monthly true-ups, excess credits accumulated in the spring and fall, when electricity use is lower, are lost. Annual true-ups preserve the credits.
  • A separate challenge is in the works to the PSC’s decision to allow Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power and Light to remunerate net metered customers at the avoided cost rate of $0.03 per KWh to $0.04 per kWh instead of the retail rate of $0.11 per KWh to $0.14 per kWh.

Dive Insight:

Solar energy advocates says switching to monthly true ups will diminish the financial payoff of rooftop solar. RENEW Wisconsin Policy and Program Director Michael Vickerman offers the following example for a typical Green Bay, Wisc., house:

For a system producing 4,500 kWh to 4,900 kWh on a Green Bay house using 5,000 kWh per year, typical monthly fluctuations would produce 561 excess KWh annually to sell to We Energies at the avoided cost rate. A monthly calculation would cost about $55, causing a 10% slower payback for the system, significantly discouraging adoption.

The key policies needed to support utility customer choice are net metering and interconnection procedure regulations, according to the 2014 edition of Freeing the Grid. State regulators and legislators generally protected those policies last year, the study reported. The best state policies are in California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon and Utah. Wisconsin, North Dakota, Virginia, and South Carolina got Ds and Oklahoma and Georgia got Fs.

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Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy