West Virginia bill to study, cap net metering signed into law

Dive Brief:

  • West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin approved a slightly revised version of HB 2201, a solar energy bill he previously turned away. The bill requires the Public Service Commission to study the state’s net energy metering policy rules, prevent it from causing a cost shift from solar owners to non-solar owners, and cap it at 3% of utility peak demand.
  • Tomblin vetoed the bill two weeks ago, urging the legislature to correct “technical issues” which included the definitions of the terms “commission,” “customer generator,” “cross-subsidization,” and “standards.”
  • The original version of the bill instructed regulators to consider the costs of solar in their study of a possible cross-subsidization of solar owners by non-solar owners caused by net metering but the new version crucially instructs them to consider benefits as well as costs.

Dive Insight:

Retail rate net metering returns the same rate to solar owners for the electricity their systems send to the grid as they pay for electricity consumption. Because solar owners’ bills are therefore reduced, their grid infrastructure charges are proportionally lower. Some conservative lawmakers, utilities, and fossil fuel interests therefore oppose net metering because it "unfairly" shifts infrastructure costs to non-solar-owners.

"In a desperate attempt to become the thought police for West Virginia, AEP aggressively lobbied to prohibit regulators from considering any solar benefits at all. AEP failed in this extreme effort," said Bryan Miller, Co-Chair of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC).

“Today I signed House Bill 2201, which regulates net metering as part of West Virginia’s power generation,” Governor Tomblin said. “I appreciate the increasing role solar and wind power will play in our state, and I encourage the Public Service Commission to continue to evaluate the costs and benefits of West Virginia’s net metering policy to balance the potential for new jobs and investment in alternative energy without unfairly burdening current ratepayers.”

Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy