NRDC and U.S. Utilities Urge Grid Payments for Solar

grid-energy-storage-1The Natural Resources Defense Council and the U.S. utility industry’s trade group are jointly calling for a new rate structure to account for customers that generate their own power with rooftop solar systems. Solar panels typically don’t meet a home’s entire power needs, and these customers continue to use the grid operated by utilities, the NRDC and the Edison Electric Institute said today in a statement. Utilities collect less revenue to maintain and improve infrastructure as consumers improve efficiency and generate more electricity, an increasingly untenable arrangement, the groups said.

“We need the grid and need to improve it in ways that support clean energy and distributed resources,” said Greene, director of renewable energy policy at the NRDC in New York, today in an interview. “We’re trying to bring EEI and utilities into the regulatory process in a more positive way.”

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Owners of rooftop solar panels “must provide reasonable cost-based compensation for the utility services they use,” the groups said in the statement. In exchange, utilities must simplify the process of connecting systems to the grid and compensate owners “fairly for the services they provide.”

Under the current policy, known as net metering, utilities must purchase excess electricity generated by customers’ solar panels. Both groups want that policy to continue, with a new mechanism that would cover utilities’ fixed costs.

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