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Man checking solar panel at sun set for net metering

Beware the Sunset of Net Metering

Dear Homeowners Considering Solar,

If you follow the play-by-play of state-level solar policymaking, well then you probably either work in the solar industry or just have a lot of time on your hands.

For most homeowners, you may not have heard what is happening in Hawaii, Indiana or now California. The utilities and their special interest lobbyists have successfully hacked net metering to bits, and homeowners are no longer able to receive full credit for the solar they produce on their own homes. 

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This may seem esoteric or irrelevant to your own consideration of solar, but here is why it’s not.

What makes solar an untaxed, stock market return with no volatility, is one-to-one net metering. What is one-to-one net metering? It basically means that you can sell excess power to the grid at the same rate that you buy power from the utility. Seems pretty common sense and fair, right?

Well the utilities and their special interests beg to differ. Since they can’t compete with the solar industry or distributed generation, they invest heavily in lobbying state legislatures to get rid of one-to-one net metering, to the point where solar becomes uneconomic. They can continue with their business model of guaranteed rates of return, with socialized losses. Heads they win, tails you lose.

It’s no wonder that the biggest state in the country and the eighth biggest economy in the world just lost one-to-one net metering – because the utilities have been fighting it for years. Now you can’t go solar in California and receive a reasonable payback time under 15-20 years. Homeowners are effectively being forced to add battery storage if they want to avoid wasting the value of excess power, since the utility has watered down the repurchase rate to peanuts.

We are in a unique period of time on the east coast, where one-to-one net metering persists, but is no doubt under attack from all sides. Imagine if your local grocery store said that you can only resell vegetables from your garden at 10% of the price that you purchase those same vegetables from the grocery store. That’s exactly what is happening across the country, and coming fast and furious for us in the Mid-Atlantic.

In the past 6 months, California homeowners have raced to get their utility interconnection applications in the queue so they could be grandfathered into the current net-metering regime. Many were not so lucky, and now have lost the full value of the sun hitting their own rooftops.

If you are thinking about going solar, you should not delay that decision. These anti-solar bills are being proposed every day in legislatures, and it’s only a matter of time before the utilities flood the zone with enough lobbyists to make them a reality. 

If you are thinking about going solar, you should put in a deposit now to guarantee yourself one-to-one net metering. It’s a financial decision that will outcompete your mutual funds, because it can’t be taxed and has no volatility. 

If you are thinking about going solar, you should not underestimate the capacity for unaccountable monopolies to rob you of the value of the sunlight hitting your own roof. Get in now, before life gets in the way, and you find out the hard way that the utility you know and love, thinks it knows what’s best for you. 

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