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Aggregating Energy Since 2006

Net Metering Report

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 (Source: Vermont Public Service Dept.)

The Network for New Energy Choice recently issued a report, "Freeing the Grid" (PDF) on state-level net metering policies, ranking them according to a grading criteria.  Minnesota ranked 6th nationally, getting an "A" grade.

While it's a generally interesting report, and a good primer.  Generally speaking, utilities hate net metering because, like energy efficiency, it reduces their electricity sales, which are tied to revenues and profits.  Coops hate it, not because of loss of profits, but because of a cross-customer subsidy from non-participating customers to the net metering ones.  Only one state (California) has decoupled sales and profits, which makes net metering a zero-interest game for them.

Regarding the report, I have two problems with it:

1. On p55 they have this to say about Minnesota, net metering, and RECs:

"Customer-generators retain ownership of all the renewable-energy credits (RECs) associated with renewable generation used to meet their on-site demand. Utilities
purchase any RECs that adhere to NEG purchased from customer-generators."

To my knowledge this is not true.  Minnesota requires all IOUs and Coops to use a standard state contract under MN Rule 7835, which doesn't mention RECs (because they weren't invented in the 1980s when the contract was written).  FERC ruled that states should decide on who owns them when contracts are silent, and to my knowledge, the MN PUC hasn't ruled one way or another.

2. The scoring system muddies incentive programs and net metering policies.  A significant amount of the "score" is based on the percentage growth and number of net metered locations in the state.  NJ and CA may very well have good net metering policies, but the growth in number is less a function of the good policy as much as it is a good solar rebate and/or high electricity prices that make net metering more attractive.  Data for 2006 after the 30% solar federal tax credit will result in a lot of percentage growth in a lot of states that has nothing to do with net metering.