A Blockbuster Year For Net Energy Metering Policy


Stoel Rives attorneys Brian Nese, Emma Fazio and Xiaowan Mao authored an article for Law360 titled “A Blockbuster Year For Net Energy Metering Policy.” The article discusses the progress made in 2016 in net energy metering (NEM) programs in several states and offers some predictions for 2017. 

The first NEM law was enacted in Minnesota in 1983. According to the authors, 2016 was a defining year in policy for NEM, which allows consumers who generate their own electricity, primarily with solar photovoltaics, to “offset their own grid energy use with the energy they generate, and to get paid for any net energy they export to the grid.” 

Proponents of NEM consider it essential that the compensation paid to customers for energy they export to the grid be at the retail rate in order to support the investment made by residential customers. On the other hand, utilities contend that NEM customers shift grid costs onto traditional consumers by not paying at the same level for grid use and upkeep. 

States have experienced various levels of contentiousness in attempting to work through issues caused by the adoption of NEM, but the authors conclude that 2017 will be an important year for NEM, in part thanks to the pressure put on utilities by the public interest in renewables. 

“While there has been a flurry of activity on NEM policy in 2016, observers can expect to see further debate across the country in 2017. Many states are still tinkering with their programs to find the right valuation for [distributed energy resources], and stakeholders continue to disagree about whether NEM customers provide a net benefit or drain on the system.” 

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