PSEG LI and Net Metering: What’s the Impact for Solar on Long Island?
Apr 22, 2016
by EmPower Solar
Earlier this week PSEG-Long Island submitted a response to the NYS Public Service Commission’s (PSC) request for feedback on the future of net-metering. Our team carefully evaluated the letter and consulted with a number of officials at PSEG-LI and the NY PSC to determine if there will be any impact to existing or future clients. At this time, we strongly believe there will be no negative impact whatsoever to our clients.
First, it is important to remember that at this point in time we are in the very early days of the discussion. PSEG-LI simply submitted feedback to the state regulator. Furthermore, the letter suggested that grandfathering existing net-meter customers is the first priority.
That position, plus precedents on other similar issues, makes us believe it is highly improbable that existing net metering customers will be impacted. Our team is not concerned and neither our past customers nor the many others seeking to go solar should worry at this time.
Please know that we are working hard to obtain answers and clarifications to pass along to you and again, we do not feel there is an immediate need for concern.
Fortunately, solar has strong momentum in the state, and Governor Cuomo has set a goal of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030. We therefore believe that any net metering changes that occur in this state will be catalytic and not prohibitive of achieving New York’s energy goals.
However, we do agree with PSEG-LI that net-metering should be replaced by a superior electric rate tariff system that more properly values the costs and benefits solar, batteries, and energy efficiency. PSEG-LI referenced a potential time-of-use (TOU) pricing structure. This is a complicated topic, and the rate needs to be carefully designed; we, along with our many allies, will absolutely have significant input on the proceeding.
Several other utilities including Con Edison introduced a very different net-metering plan this week. Other ideas include utilizing different models for residential and commercial systems and structuring those models in a way that will continue to encourage solar growth. Click here to read the full article.
Currently, other parts of the country use TOU models as opposed to the flat price structure that most homes use here in New York. TOU would encourage homeowners to be mindful and smarter about overall energy usage. Charging plug-in cars and running large appliances, for example, would occur at selective times during the day to avoid huge energy surges during periods of peak usage. Fortunately, this is closely related to peak solar production time as well.
Adopting TOU power supply pricing makes a lot of sense and has the potential to benefit solar homeowners. If structured correctly, homeowners would have the power to change their energy habits in a way that saves them more money than a kWh for kWh net metering program would. This is especially the case for homeowners who add battery backup systems to their solar installations; as battery prices decrease and become more affordable, this fits in very well with a TOU pricing model.
Concerns About PSEG-LI Comments: Solar is Great for Middle Class
One statement we do not agree with is that solar “results in particularly regressive cost shifts to lower income customers… since the more affluent can afford the upfront payment required...” as studies show that more middle class families go solar versus affluent families. Moreover, our middle-class clients truly value the fixed solar costs, as opposed to the volatile and constantly rising energy costs. Therefore, we believe that solar is a major boon to Long Island’s economy.
Thousands of middle and lower income Long Island families have switched to solar energy over the past few years, and the NYSERDA middle to low income solar incentive further assists them in this goal.
A critical point not addressed in the letter is that solar can have a dramatically positive impact on air quality and public health, an important topic of discussion as Suffolk County is consistently rated with the worst air quality in New York. Click here to learn more.
Again, we are working hard to represent our clients and the industry overall to get clarity from the authorities on what the future holds for net-metering.
As always, we are standing by to answer any questions you may have and should any reasons for concern arise in the future we will certainly communicate with you. At this time, we encourage you to sit back, relax and watch your meters spin backwards as the spring and summer sun is upon us!