Mersing and Kozal Break Down Solar Net Metering Changes for 2019


Energy attorneys Jennifer Mersing and Sarah Kozal authored an article for Solar Industry titled “A Look at Solar Net Metering Changes in 2019,” published December 9, 2019. The article discusses actions taken in one state to encourage the growth of rooftop solar (Washington) and in another to roll back some of the benefits offered by net metering (Michigan). The authors also look at California, in which many steps have been taken in the past few years to encourage rooftop and behind-the-meter solar.

Net metering allows a consumer to offset electricity provided by the utility with electricity generated by an eligible on-site generating facility such as a rooftop solar installation. States have managed the implementation of such programs.

Michigan is phasing out its net metering program and replaced it with a “distributed generation program,” which pays customers a rate for excess energy they send to the grid lower than the rate they pay to purchase energy from the utility.

Washington, on the other hand, raised each utility’s net metering threshold – the cumulative generating capacity of net metering systems equal to some percentage of the utility’s peak demand for a given time frame – to four percent from one percent.

California has seen big changes and an expansion recently in net energy metering, thanks in part to a 2018 mandate on rooftop solar on new construction, and is now facing growing pains stemming from the expansion. Most visibly, the California Public Utilities Commission has concentrated on enhancing consumer protections for net energy metering customers.

The authors conclude, “Without any national net metering policy, states will continue to diverge in their implementation. So, stay tuned for more state net metering developments in 2020.”

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