WV utilities propose slashing energy credit in half for customers with solar panels
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Major utilities in West Virginia, Mon Power and Potomac Edison, want to reduce the credit their solar customers get for producing power the utilities use. Critics countered the move would dampen the market for solar in the state.
Net metering is a billing mechanism giving credits to residential and small business owners for excess energy produced by their solar panels, which flows back into the grid. Customers are only billed for the difference between what they use and what they generate, and earned credits can be used to lower monthly costs.
Emmett Pepper, policy director for the nonprofit Energy Efficient West Virginia, said current solar customers would not be affected, but the change would affect people who want to take control of their energy bills.
"The reason that most people want to have solar panels is to save money and this will make it harder to do that," Pepper contended.
More than 3,000 West Virginia homes and businesses participate in rooftop solar net metering programs. Residents can get involved and submit feedback to the state's Public Service Commission. The commission is expected to make a decision on the case early next year.
Gary Zuckett, executive director of the group West Virginia Citizen Action, pointed out net metering provides energy security and boosts resilience against extreme weather events by decentralizing power production. He said pulling the plug on net metering would stress the power grid and stagnate job growth in the state's emerging energy sector.
"We really think that it's a benefit for the power company to have more people net metering," Zuckett explained. "They should not be penalizing them by trying to lower the credit they get for putting power into the grid."
In a 2022 Pew Survey, when asked about possible reasons for installing solar panels, more than 90% of homeowners said saving money was a driving factor. Last year, the Biden administration implemented new federal tax credits for installing residential solar.
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