Category: Vote Solar

07/18/13

  08:36:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 585 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Utilities, SEPA, Vote Solar, Net Metering

Net Metering Debate - Two Strategies

As the debate over net metering’s future intensifies, two newly introduced tools have caught our eye - an outreach effort by the folks at Vote Solar targeting the California Assembly and the release of a net-metering Primer by the folks at SEPA.

SEPA’s Primer

SEPA primerLet’s start with what SEPA has done.  For those not familiar with them, SEPA is the Solar Electric Power Association and it is dedicated to “helping utilities integrate solar energy into their portfolio."  In order to have an informed debate about the value of net metering, SEPA observed that there is a need for all participants to share the same lexicon, specifically as it pertains to two, very complicated disciplines: “state utility regulation (particularly rate-setting) and principles that are considered during the valuation of incremental resource additions, specifically distributed solar resources."  Needless to say, for most people who do not operate under those state regulations (or set them), this is an arcane lexicon indeed.

Into that breach SEPA had provided a forty-nine page report titled, Ratemaking, Solar Value and Solar Net Energy Metering - a Primer, with the stated goal of providing “an unbiased foundation for broad and productive participation in NEM-related discussions and policy processes.” The report is divided into three main sections: The History and Status of Net Metering; the Regulatory Processes relevant to Net Metering Policy Review; and Solar Value Analyses.  It includes an extensive set of expert resources (from a variety of perspectives) and concludes by hoping that “this paper will support better critical understanding of those references and more productive communications going forward.”

This is not an easy read by any means.  But it should be “must read” material for those of us who would opine on the issue of net metering as public policy.  It is on our Kindle App and once we’ve had a chance to work our way through it, we will have more to say about this important contribution to the debate.

Vote Solar’s Campaign

Vote Solar logoWhile SEPA is looking to provide a non-partisan primer to raise the level of the ongoing discussion, Vote Solar is looking to advance the solar cause more directly. Vote Solar has set up an online campaign to help the public contact their members of the California Assembly urging them to continue supporting strong solar policies, like net metering.  Under the headline “Help us celebrate California’s solar success story,” Vote Solar declares:

Rooftop solar is helping California families, schools and businesses take charge of their power supply and electricity bills like never before. Today we have more than 165,000 solar roofs – that adds up to a whole lot of clean, reliable, local power that’s improving air quality and creating jobs right in our own communities.

But with some big utilities lobbying hard in Sacramento to create new barriers to rooftop solar, your state representative needs to know that you see and support this kind of solar progress!

Exactly so.

The site then allows visitors to enter their zip code to determine their Assemblymember and provides an editable letter that can be easily emailed through their system.  Personalization would seem important here as politicians tend to discount identical messages but are more likely to attend to something that explains who you are and why you support the solar cause.  If you care to participate, click on the sunny Vote Solar logo and it will take you to the page.

Although reflecting the different starting points of their sponsoring organizations, both of these tools are welcome additions to the debate and deserve your attention.

Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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