Solar arrays may be rarer, if utilities are widely permitted to lower the price they pay for homeowner-generated solar power back to the grid.

It’s getting harder to figure out whether homeowners converting their homes to solar energy makes financial sense.

MarketWatch correspondent Bill Sanderson takes on the controversial issue that puts the regional power and utility companies at odds with the solar industry, and makes it ever more difficult for homeowners to calculate whether investing in home solar systems will return on their investment.

The issue centers around net metering, which utilities in some areas are saying unfairly impacts their revenue streams and costs. Sanderson writes:

Some utilities around the country complain that net metering doesn’t cover their costs of accommodating solar. With support from regulators, they’ve started paying for home solar at lower prices than grid power.

Consumers need to pay attention to these changes. Most home solar systems export 40% to 60% of their electricity production back to the power grid, says Mark Dyson, a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which studies alternate energy. Lower payments for that power have a big impact on whether home solar is cost effective.
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