- The South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) is threatening to sue the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) if the commission continues to require it to pay customers with rooftop solar arrays the new net energy metering (NEM) rate of $0.07/kWh to $0.075/kWh for solar electricity exported to the grid.
- SMEPA has allowed solar owners to export electricity to its system for five years and is working toward obtaining 1% of its power from solar by 2017. The cooperative argues the PSC does not have rate-setting jurisdiction over it, but will not sue if the commission lowers its NEM rate to $0.04/kWh to $0.045/kWh.
- The PSC’s NEM rate, set after an open, deliberative proceeding, offers rooftop solar users in the state the opportunity to earn income for the electricity they contribute to the grids of Entergy Energy and Mississippi Power, the state’s dominant investor-owned utilities, for the first time.
Like many utilities in the Southeast, SMEPA is working at developing its experience with utility-scale solar. It announced in May it would build five smaller than 100 kW central station arrays to be online in early 2016. It announced in September it would build a 52 MW central station array to be online by the end of 2016.
SMEPA argues NEM for rooftop solar owners creates a subsidy for them that shifts extra costs to its non-solar owning customers to cover diminished revenues from solar owners needed to meet fixed infrastructure costs.
SMEPA argues federal law protects it, as a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative, from PSC regulation. It generates, transmits and sells wholesale electric energy to 11 distribution cooperatives that deliver the electricity to 419,000 Mississippi customers.
During the NEM proceeding, the three commissioners chose the $0.07/kWh to $0.075/kWh as a middle ground between the Entergy-proposed $0.04/kWh to $0.045/kWh rate and the solar advocate-proposed $0.10/kWh rate.