Louisiana regulators set to wrestle with net metering in 2016
- Louisiana energy regulators are struggling with net metering and solar generation issues, and may consider hosting a technical conference in order to get all parties in one room to discuss the matter.
- Last month, Entergy hit its net metering cap of 0.5% of peak load and will begin to pay new rooftop solar a lower rate, based on its avoided cost, rather than the full retail rate for generation.
- A study completed earlier this year on raising the cap cast residential solar as a burden on Louisiana's broader energy consumers, but WRKF radio reports the conclusions are a matter of dispute at the commission.
When the Louisiana Public Service Commission meets next, on Jan. 26, they may consider bringing net metering stakeholders together in an attempt to work out state policy, WRKF reports.
“We may be creating a technical conference where we bring in all the parties, all the issues, listen to the public, bring in the commissioners and really study the issue to see what’s the best decision for the people of Louisiana," PSC Commissioner Lambert Bossiere told the station.
The Louisiana commission is made up of five elected officials, and WRKF spoke with two who both appeared to make statements favoring solar policies. Discussing the state's 0.5% net metering cap, Bossiere said Louisiana “really needs to step up a little bit in order to join the norm."
And PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell told the station, “the biggest opponents of solar power are the people who sell electricity...They want to sell you all the electricity.”
The commission previously commissioned a study on the economics of the cap by Acadian Consulting. But among other criticisms of the study, it included the state's solar tax credits as a cost for utilities, even though the credits are claimed on an individual's tax return. The report was “completely non-objective,” Campbell said. Critics have challenged the impartiality of it author, a Louisiana State University economist named David Dismukes.
Louisiana recently voted to keep the 0.5% net metering cap in place, though it is one of the most restrictive of the 46 net metering policies in the nation.
That vote was led by PSC Commissioner Erik Skrmetta, known for his opposition to net metering policies in the past, at the same time the commission accepted the now-disputed draft report claiming that increasing the cap would add $809 million to ratepayer bills.
Skrmetta reportedly released the draft report to legislators himself, saying in an email that it "demonstrates that Louisiana has lost <-$89,0000,000.00> (net present value) due to the impact of solar subsidies."
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