I think we forget that utility companies are private, for-profit organizations that are given permission to have a monopoly if they’re willing be overseen by a utility commission charged with ensuring benefit for the public. When we, as individuals, generate our own power, it reduces the income enjoyed by the electric utilities. So, they’ll pay lip service to sustainability with a few wind machines or a small solar farm … which they photograph and publicize so they’ll look like they really care about sustainability … but, bottom line, profit is still their goal.
When I began the Garden Atrium development, if we generated more power in a month than we used, rather than sending us a check, they put the power they bought back into a reserve account. In some months, we used more than we generated, so the account paid the bill. And once a year, they zeroed our account. Net zero planning, which means 100% plus storage, is based on that principle. Then, Virginia’s Dominion Energy got the state legislature to zero out monthly, eliminating the reserve account, and converting that amount to profit for the utility.
It appears that the power companies are striving to achieve increased profit in other states, as well. The outcome increases utility company profit, but works against renewable power systems that support life on our planet. Here’s the report, with comments afterwards.
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Florida passes net metering bill that will
gut rooftop solar, advocates say,
as they call for a veto
Iulia Gheorghiu, Editor
March 8, 2022
The Florida Senate on Monday passed a bill 24-15 that has been criticized by distributed solar advocates as an attempt to gut rooftop solar in the state. The bill had already gotten approval in the Florida House of Representatives.
- The bill directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to change net metering requirements and have customers pay the full cost of electric service instead of that being “subsidized” by non-net metering customers, which utilities have argued would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Distributed energy sold to the grid would also be credited below retail rates and net metering customers could be billed fixed charges and other fees that would drive up the cost of distributed solar.
- While utilities are congratulating the legislature for advancing the bill before the end of the session, distributed solar advocates are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis, R, to veto the legislation and “to stand up to monopoly utility companies that are leading this effort to put an end to Floridians’ personal freedom to put solar on their property,” Heaven Campbell, the state’s program director of Solar United Neighbors, said in a statement.
As distributed solar penetration increases, states like California and Florida are considering equitable paths forward due to concerns of cost-shifting for utility customers.
The passage of the controversial bill followed a virtual town hall held by solar advocates on Wednesday. Clean energy groups are maintaining that the policy would gut the distributed solar market in Florida.
A draft of the bill was written by NextEra Energy-owned Florida Power & Light and given to legislators as the basis for SB 1024 and HB 741, according to documents obtained by the Miami Herald last year, prompting advocates to further criticize the bill in recent months.
The state was poised to surpass North Carolina as the Southeast state with the most total solar installed, according to an annual report from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). The state had 593 MW of distributed solar in 2020, and was poised to grow to 873 MW in 2024. Stephen Smith, executive director of SACE, said …
“FPL just killed the customer-owned
solar market or at least it’s
Related Industries concluded after a January hearing that redesigning the state’s net metering rate structure would have “an indeterminate impact” on solar installation and manufacturing, citing state PSC documents.
According to the committee’s post-hearing report, “decreasing the credit amount from retail to the full avoided cost may have a positive impact on IOUs.” The report cited FPL projections from a September workshop, saying that from 2020 through 2025, Tampa Electric, Duke Florida, FPL and Gulf Power customers that don’t use net metering could absorb $719 million in subsidies for customer-owned solar. Chris McGrath, FPL spokesperson, said …
“The old rules have fueled a rapidly
growing, multi-million-dollar annual
subsidy paid for by the vast majority
of Floridians who don’t have rooftop
solar in support of those who do.”
But distributed solar advocates criticized legislators for not doing their own pricing assessment of the “subsidies” created by Florida’s current net metering programs program. Smith said …
“The state legislative leadership has
just drunk FPL’s line and now they’ve
passed this without really doing the
kind of due diligence that you would
expect elected officials to do with
something that’s having such a
significant economic impact.”
Distributed solar advocates, like Vote Solar, say Florida’s rooftop solar industry provides $18.3 billion annually in economic impact for the state.
The bill would not impact existing customers for another 20 years, although the committee report said “customers who have already installed systems under the current net metering rule may find that they will have a lower return on their investment than initially predicted.”
Decreasing the credit amount for power sent back to the grid from the retail rate to “the full avoided cost” may impact the installation of new renewable generation systems, the report said.
FPL sees the current credit as a “tax” on customers without net metering. McGrath said …
“This legislation would take an important
step toward balancing the costs of solar
expansion in the state.
“While it would still potentially lock in
hundreds of millions of dollars in extra
charges for non-rooftop customers, it
importantly directs the Florida Public
Service Commission to phase out this
regressive tax and make solar energy
more equitable for all Floridians, not
just the fortunate few.”
Other utilities also congratulated the state legislature on the passage of the bill. and looking for creative solutions which would be mutually beneficial to our customers. This bill strikes a balance between all electric consumers, the solar industry and Duke Energy Florida, providing a predictable path for rooftop solar installations while considering the impacts to all electric customers across the state,” Ana Gibbs, utility spokesperson, said.
Clean energy groups are maintaining that the policy would gut the distributed solar market in Florida and oppose any fixed fees for net metering customers. Katie Chiles Ottenweller, Southeast director of Vote Solar, said on Wednesday …
“I have seen these fixed charges go
into effect in states like Alabama and
Georgia and even if you do have a de-
cent credit for solar exports, you can
wipe out the value proposition of roof-
top solar just with a monthly charge.”
Josh Kearns, a board member of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, said during Wednesday’s virtual rally to oppose the legislation …
“We’ve been fighting hard to make
sure these bills do not go through.
“We’ve been reaching out directly
[to DeSantis] on the public benefit
for the entire state of rooftop solar.”
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For many years, state legislatures passed laws requiring utility companies to generate a percent of their power with renewable resources. The utilities added solar farms and/or wind machines to their holdings, and/or bought credits from people who already used those sources. We get a few “free solar energy dollars” a year for our installations … and we keep the power, too. That legislation bolstered the change to clean renewable energy.
Times have changed.
As a single homeowner without the wherewithal to muster the money for a fight against legislation that increases our utility bills and increases the harm to our planet due to continued use of fossil-fuel-based power systems, I can simply advocate for homeowners to make the commitment to install your own solar power system before your utility company impairs your ability to do so.
Legislation that succeeds in one state is quickly sent to other states, as “model legislation.” However, so-called “grandfather systems” already in place are usually not affected. So, if you truly want to contribute to the shift to renewable energy and, at the same time, save money on your power costs, install a photovoltaic system for your home while you’re able to do so. (I’m not using the “rooftop” term, as the panels can be installed on a garage roof or a fence.)
Adding comments from D …
“It is painful to witness power companies’ greed. We know from studies that have been done after the major cold spell in Texas last year, that wind and solar could have decreased or almost eliminated the power outages, as they take pressure off of a power grid.
“Every time a major trend gets rolling, there is always a group of individuals who wants things to go back to the way things were. This legislation in Florida is an example of change moving forward and the power companies’ response. Beyond putting solar panels on your house, the more you can elect legislators that see climate change as real, and will vote accordingly, the more you will be making a better long-term choice.”