In 2015, residential solar finally reached grid parity, the point at which the cost of residential solar is comparable to the average price of power on the utility grid. This milestone in residential sustainability is a benefit across the boards, write Mark Muro, a senior fellow, and Devashree Saha, a senior policy associate, of the Brookings Institution - no matter how difficult net metering is becoming for our public utility commissions (PUC) to handle.
The debate around the best policies and rates with the rise of solar power is essential, but the backlashes occurring in states like Nevada will only halt the progress already made toward energy independence. In fact, after the Nevada PUC drastically curtailed its net-metering payments, solar installation permits plunged 92% in the first quarter of 2016.
Net metering — contra the Nevada decision — frequently benefits all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, which is a finding state public utility commissions, or PUCs, need to take seriously as the fight over net metering rages in states like Arizona, California, and Nevada. Regulators everywhere need to put in place processes that fairly consider the full range of benefits (as well as costs) of net metering as well as other policies as they set and update the policies, regulations, and tariffs that will play a critical role in determining the extent to which the distributed solar industry continues to grow.