New Florida muni solar program cuts NEM rates, includes battery storage incentives
- The Jacksonville Electric Authority Board of Directors last week approved a wide-ranging plan aimed at increasing clean energy options, but also trims the retail net metering rate for new customers.
- The utility's plan will add 250 MW of utility-scale solar to its system, offer a 30% rebate for customers who install battery storage, and allows large commercial customers to lock in clean energy rates.
- The new net metering rate will be set at JEA's fuel cost — roughly $0.0325/kWh, according to PV Magazine. The retail rate is currently about $0.105/kWh.
JEA's board decision highlights the mixed reactions from customers over efforts from Florida's power sector to boost clean energy the state's clean energy profile. The utility's board embraced the falling cost of solar when it targeted 250 MW of additional sola, noting the levelized cost of solar power purchase agreements will to be $0.0325/kWh, or the same as its fuel rate costs.
And the 30% customer rebate for installing storage, which is limited to $2,000 per customer, caps at $1 million annually. The utility said it expects to add 4 MW of solar annually, with customers storing excess energy in the batteries.
But according to a blog post by SACE's George Cavros, "JEA is operating under the primitive paradigm that customer-owned solar value is limited to avoided fuel costs." Effective March 31, 2018, the net metering rate will drop from $0.105/kWh to $0.0325/kWh.
SACE was also critical of Jacksonville's lack of community engagement surrounding its solar plan, but said it would keep an eye on whether the new net metering rules led to a decline in solar adoption with plans to "hold JEA accountable" should adoption numbers fall.
JEA serves about 455,000 electric customers. PV Magazine points out that once the 250 MW of new solar is brought online, the utility will have about 300 MW total to serve customers — making it one of the utilities with the highest penetration in the nation.
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