Legislators (like House Co-Chair Golden of TUE pictured) and news reporters make the mistake of calling Net Metering, the payment for solar produced electricity, a subsidy. The truth is when it comes to solar net metering, utilities get paid twice … once when they sell it to an abutter of a solar producer, and second as a fee on every ratepayer’s electric bill. Even to this day that fee is one-fourth the fee they levy for conservation programs, but that isn’t the point … utilities would like you to believe that solar generated electrons have no value, hence the ridiculous statement by NGRID that “solar” will cost them $1.5 billion from now to 2020.
But that is no where near the truth, and what our utilities fear most is that an actual and objective value of solar study (VOS), as suggest recently by the state Solar Task Force, will show what a bargain solar electric is when paid for at the so-called “Retail” rate (±.17 per kWh). Last year in Maine a VOS study found solar generated electricity is worth around .36 per kWh. A recent study by ACADIA found for Massachusetts that solar kWh was worth between .29 and .35 (click here) before consideration of environmental benefits. In fact utilities get solar electricity not only at a bargain rate currently, but also get it at peak demand times when utilities must pay as much as .60 kWh on the ISO spot market.
The recent House rewriting of S1979, not unlike the Governor’s propose bill H3724, is cleverly written legislation so that it appears to lift net metering a few more percentages of capacity in trade for giving the utilities an even greater bargain for solar electric power — reducing payment to be the same as the lowest wholesale price they pay for coal electric generation, or around .03 to .07 per kWh. This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, with the intent to cripple solar electric growth by the end of 2016, so that we become fully reliant on yet another non-renewable energy source – gas. Why gas … because most utilities also own and control gas supply and distribution in addition to the distribution of electricity.
Help our legislators understand the truth. Solar electricity is not subsidized, net metering is payment for generated electricity, and at the current rate it is a bargain especially when you consider the damage fossil fuels (and that includes natural gas) is doing to our health and environment. Tell Speaker DeLeo, Ways & Means Chair Dempsey, and TUE Co-Chair Golden (current House reps on the solar energy conference committee), “lift the cap on solar NOW, this state can’t continue to lose 10 jobs every day, and our planet and children need all of us to do the right thing for their future.”
Finally ask our House Representatives to consider if the utilities say solar is so bad and hurts the low-income ratepayer … why is it they wrote into S1979 that they [the utilities] can install over 35 Megawatts of solar electric for themselves, for the profit for their shareholders, and cost to ratepayers … all while sabotaging solar investment by the private and public [municipal] investors?