We need your help right now to improve Washington State solar power legislation! The Solar Fairness Act passed the state Senate last week, and is now under consideration in House committees, beginning with the House Committee on Environment & Energy.
The bill ensures that home and small business solar power system owners get credit against their utility bills for electricity they feed to the power grid. Washington has long been far behind other states in crediting home solar owners for the electricity they produce, mandating that utilities set aside just 0.5% of revenues to give as bill credits for solar power sent to them. That amount is so small that it is increasingly committed to presentsolar power producers with nothing left for newones, which has become a serious drag on the state’s move to clean electricity. Some utilities have already shut off credits to those who want to go solar, while many other utilities will soon follow. By raising this utility set-aside to 4% of revenues, the Solar Fairness Act improves our state’s commitment to smart, local, clean energy.
Call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Say, “Please support the Solar Fairness Act to ensure that new home solar generators get full credit for the clean energy they feed to the power grid.”
Is This The Same as Governor Jay Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy Bill?
No, the 100% clean energy bill concerns goals years and decades in the future, while the Solar Fairness Act addresses a huge problem right now.
The problem is that the state’s other solar incentives have run out just as we began to develop a solar power industry here, leaving dozens of new companies and thousands of solar workers in the lurch, and denying new home solar system owners credit for the electricity they make.
The Solar Fairness Act adds a level of certainty to homeowners who want to go solar as well as for businesses and workers who want to join this critically important industry.
The Net Metering Revolution
Requiring utilities to compensate rooftop solar owners for power they send to the grid is called “net metering,” because when you put up a solar power system, your regular utility meter is replaced with one that measures not only the power you consume from the utility but also power you produce for it.
At our northern latitude this is essential for making solar economical, because we get 80% of our solar production during the sunny half of the year when days are up to 18 hours long. By allowing people to credit their summer solar power surplus against their winter utility bills, solar power makes great sense here. Otherwise, you’d face a hard choice between building a solar system that is too large for summer versus one too small for winter. Net metering evens out these seasonal swings by basing bills on an annual cycle.
Net metering has been such a huge success that 43 states and the District of Columbia have made it law. Yet Washington’s net metering law has long been one of the nation’s weakest, which is part of why Washington’s solar industry is still miniscule relative even to Oregon’s, let alone to front-running solar states such as California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Washington is blessed with abundant opportunities for solar, especially here on the sunny side of the state where people tend to use more electricity. Let’s make the most of all this solar energy!
Net Metering Is a Great Deal Even For Those Who Don’t Own Solar
You can disregard utility industry claims that rooftop solar raises costs for those without solar. Owning home solar even lowers electricity costs for others. A major U.S. Government study finds that because rooftop solar puts generation where the consumption is, it reduces the need for costly new transmission lines and transformers, offsetting or even reducing utility operating costs.
Also ignore utility claims that solar net metering customers don’t pay for utility lines they use. Everyone, solar or not, pays these utility fixed costs through the base charge that we all find on our utility bill (Avista’s is $9.00 per month).
Distributed solar may not make extra money for utility stockholders, but it’s a bonus for everyone else.
So call your Washington state legislature representatives!