Letter to the editor: New net-metering regs are unfair
It was with dismay and a great sense of betrayal that I read the recent letter dated Dec. 5, from Green Mountain Power concerning new regulations for the Net Metering program. My wife and I are approaching retirement, and have installed solar panels sufficient to meet our power needs (with a little extra) as an investment in our future. The new regulations completely pull the rug out from under us.
To start off, there are some changes that I think are reasonable:
• Phasing out the .06 premium. Deep inside I never figured the premium to be a forever thing, anyway.
• Expiration of credits. Credits lasting forever are not reasonable. While 12 months seems pretty short considering the variable nature of solar production seasonally and from day-to-day, so long as the allocation of extra credits is made easy enough, it is workable.
The rest of the changes are a different story.
• “… all customers will have excess generation monetized and credited to their bill at a rate per kWH tied to either a statewide average residential rate or GMP’s residential rate, whichever is lower.” (emphasis mine) I can see the logic of tying it to a statewide rate, and I can see the logic of tying it to GMP’s rate, but is there anyone (other than GMP) that sees the ‘whichever is lower’ as reasonable? If the statewide average is less than GMP’s, we will be charged at a higher rate than we are being compensated.
• We can no longer allocate credits by dollar amount by assigning existing credits to a member of our net metering group, only by changing the allocation percentages on future credits. Percentages are a very blunt instrument to use, and will require much more difficult calculations, predictions and downright guesses, which can only be adjusted four times a year. What used to be a simple matter to manage with dollar allocations becomes a headache that will be difficult to get right. It is a regulation that solves nothing, but increases complexity.
• “Net metering credits will not be able to be applied to certain non-energy charges, including the customer charge…” This makes absolutely no sense. We have always been charged for connection to the distribution system, billing, metering etc., just like anyone else. Whether our credits are applied to our whole bill, or partly on our bill and partly on another, it has the same impact on GMP’s bottom line. It just forces us to give our credits away, and considering the new difficulties in allocating credits, increases the chances of credits expiring. Expired credits are power that GMP has received and used, but manage to not pay for. It is a regulation again that solves nothing, but increases complexity.
We pay for equipment that generates electricity, a commodity that has monetary value, that goes into the grid and is used by GMP. It is only reasonable that we expect to be compensated for that electricity fairly, and in a simple manner that returns to us the value that is owed us.
I understand that the new regulations were meant to bring fairness to net-metering customers and regular customers alike. That is a goal that I support. But these new regulations can only be considered a swing-and-a-miss in that direction. None of the objectionable regulations above bring any degree of fairness to regular customers, and can only be considered punitive to net-metering customers. The PSB needs to try again to get this right.