- FirstEnergy and American Electric Power, Ohio’s two dominant electricity providers, want the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to cut the state’s net energy metering (NEM) reimbursement rate and limit how much power they must buy back from solar owners.
- When PUCO ruled in January 2014 that the utilities must reimburse 120% of their solar-owning customers' three year average monthly demand instead of the utilities proposed 100%, they sued the commission in the Ohio Supreme Court. The decision is pending.
- The utilities also want regulators to reduce NEM reimbursement for power sent to the grid from the $0.06 per kWh retail electricity rate to only the energy portion of the rate. And they want the commission to rule they do not have to reimburse customers of out-of-Ohio electricity providers.
The FirstEnergy and AEP campaign is another in the many episodes of utilities resisting NEM because they are convinced it shifts costs to non-solar owning customers.
When solar owners’ energy payments are reduced because their solar allows them to use less electricity, they also make lower capacity payments. The capacity charge is the portion of the electricity bill that goes to grid upgrades and maintenance.
When solar owners pay less for grid costs, non-solar owners theoretically pay more unless, as solar advocates argue, distributed solar provides more benefits to the system than the costs it imposes. If that is the case, it reduces costs to non-solar owners.
The "Maine Distributed Solar Valuation Study," ordered by Maine’s legislature and overseen by Maine’s regulators, concluded the real and whole value of solar could be over $0.33 per kWh, though the average retail price of electricity in Maine is $0.13 per kWh.
Like the commission in Maine and many other commissions across the country, the PUCO is studying the question of solar costs and benefits.