Installed rooftop solar and signed up for net metering before 2017? You’ll continue to get a one-for-one credit for all of the energy you export to the grid through 2034. Meaning that when your solar panels are producing a ton of energy in the afternoon while you’re at work and not using the energy, those kWhs are being exported to the grid and you’re getting full credit for them for when you get home after dark but still need to catch up with Dancing with the Stars.
Installed rooftop solar and signed up for net metering in 2017 or later? You are part of the sliver of folks that actually got a pretty good deal here. Although the energy you panels produce each month is netted against the energy you use, any excess at the end of the month is only credited to you at the ‘avoided cost’ rate as opposed to your predecessors whose full, one-for-one, retail credit rolls over from month to month. These new rules lump you back in with your predecessors whereas any excess is credited at the full retail rate, and will roll over from month to month, for the next 15 years, through 2034.
Planning on installing rooftop solar? Well, if you can get it installed and have your interconnection agreement submitted to your utility by the end of the year you’re in luck. You will be included in the grandfathering clause and receive full retail, one-for-one credit for every kWh you export to the grid through 2034. BUT, if you can’t make such a significant purchase in the next two and a half months like most folks, you likely will not be able to sign up for net metering, rather you will be enrolled in 2-channel billing. That means, if you’re home during the sunny hours watching Dancing with the Stars while doing laundry and running the dishwasher the power your panels are producing are going directly to your house ‘behind the meter’ or current in home energy needs. And, if you need more power, you can purchase it from your electric company at the full retail rate, or the same as what your non-solar neighbor pays for it. However, if you install solar after January 1, 2020, and are at work during the sunny hours like many of us, the energy your panels are producing generally aren’t being used at your home right now. Therefore, they are being exported to the grid and the utility is going to credit you at the avoided cost which is roughly $.03, and likely sell it to your neighbor at the full retail rate which is roughly $.09. Then when you get home, and it’s dark, your panels aren’t producing anymore but Dancing with the Stars is about to come on you have to buy your energy at the full retail rate despite the fact that you’ve been giving Entergy all of your energy all day. Your energy usage is no longer netted against your energy production and you get roughly $.03 for every kWh you push to the grid and pay roughly $.09 for every kWh you need to buy. Bunk deal, huh?
There’s a few other noteworthy pieces of this new rule. First, the grandfathering clause stays with the home in case of change in ownership, so if you’re buying or selling you should still retain the value of your rooftop solar. Next, the rule allows homeowners to keep their Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), and although they may not be extremely valuable for smaller systems they do still have value. Lastly, the new rule allows for Community Solar! Although it does not create a mandate for Community Solar, or create a Community Solar program, it does make the utilities accept Community Solar projects should a community be inclined to design one for themselves.
This issue come back at the October LPSC meeting when PosiGen Solar and the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association (GSRIEA) filed a petition for a rehearing based on new information regarding just how much more money our utilities are set to pocket under the new rules. However the LPSC voted to deny the rehearing request. So, lawsuits, and other major surprises aside, it appears these rules will go into place January 1, 2020. The rules do call for a Commission Review in 15 years, but the LPSC could likely review them again before if they so choose. Keep in mind, two Commissioners are up for election next year, so make sure you’re paying close attention to these elections.