A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

These days Barry Goldwater, Jr. is on an unlikely crusade. In March, the former California Republican congressman founded Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed, or TUSK, after Arizona’s largest electric utility proposed a hefty new fee on solar customers and a plan to lower net metering rates, which dictate how much electric utilities pay solar customers for excess energy sold back to the grid. As Mr. Goldwater stated it “Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice.”

Goldwater’s team won a minor victory Thursday, when state utilities regulators narrowly voted to impose an average $5 monthly fee on new solar customers in Arizona. While the ruling was a compromise for the solar industry, and an acknowledgement that solar users shift power costs to the utility’s non-renewables customers, the new fees are just a fraction of the $50 to $100 that APS had asked commissioners to add to solar customers’ monthly bills.

Backed by powerful conservative groups, public utilities in several states are now pushing to curb the solar industry, and asking regulators to raise fees and impose new restrictions on solar customers. And as more people turn to rooftop solar as a way to reduce energy costs—90,000 businesses and homeowners installed panels last year, up 46 percent from 2011—the issue is pitting pro-utilities Republicans against this fledgling movement of libertarian-minded activists who see independent power generation as an individual right. In other words, the fight over solar power is raging within the GOP itself.

“As more customers install solar on their homes, it becomes even more important that everyone who uses the grid shares in the cost of keeping it operating reliably for the future,” APS CEO Don Brandt said in the company’s filing with the state regulatory commission.

(SLevy) That is where ‘Dual Metering’ which is the TVA improvement over ‘Net Metering’ is the better alternative. The general definition of dual metering is “the arrangement that measures energy exported to and imported from the utility grid separately.” In present use within the TVA system dual metering is configured as two meters; one meter to read the home use of electric energy and the other meter to monitor the solar energy generated and sent out to the distribution line. Do not confuse this with ‘Smart Metering’ where electronic measurement devices are used by utilities to communicate information for billing customers and operating their electric systems. Kudos for TVA. Why? Because the individual user should be responsible for his or her share of the cost of maintaining the distribution grid based on how much energy they use. Their use is separately metered under Dual Metering. Now the rooftop solar is also separately metered so that the user can and should be justly compensated for the excess energy their solar system produces that goes out on the grid to be used by the neighbors. This extra solar energy should be fairly compensated as the utility saves money by not having to buy the energy delivered to the grid by the solar system from the utility power provider. So TVA and its distributors have the advantage of being in a position to fairly deal with the solar PV rooftop user/provider. What do you think?

original article in New Republic.

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