LPSC Considering Rollback of Incentives for Solar Panels on Homes

Mary Shepp's home in Lafayette

The Louisiana Public Service Commission met Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in Baton Rouge and heard testimony on Net-Metering by solar installers and owners, utility representatives, PSC staff and others. Clyde Holloway, District 4 commissioner and proponent of changing the net-meter order, offered a motion but said he would delay a vote until the PSC meets May 21 in Baton Rouge. Here are highlights of his pending motion:

1) Reduce the rate of payment to net-metering customers to average avoided cost plus one cent per kilowatt-hour

2) Charge net-metering customers for the cost to replace their regular meter with a net meter. Entergy has estimated this cost at $65.

3) Require utilities to pay cash compensation at least once per year to net-metering customers rather than aggregate credits or, as is done now, require the customer to close out their accounts and leave the system to receive their credits.

4) Prohibit the installation of a net meter for anyone except the end user of electricity. This modification is intended to prevent a third party, for example a solar leasing company, from “owning” the net meter and selling electricity to the utility customer.

5) No recommendation on “grandfathering” existing systems

6) Allow six months for implementation of these changes

7) Upon approval of all of the above, Mr. Holloway would remove the cap on new net-metering installations that currently is set at .5 percent of retail peak demand.

Twelve persons including Sierra Club gave statements in support of keeping the existing rules. No one except LPSC staff gave statements in support of the changes. Forest Bradley Wright for Alliance for Affordable Energy gave a comprehensive statement in support of existing rules including the important observation that the Commission has not done a cost benefit analysis on the effects of the proposed rule change. He also pointed at that there is lots of evidence from other states that there are benefits to all ratepayers from having part of the electrical load covered by net-metering customers. Tucker Crawford of Gulf States Solar Energy Association even offered in his statement to do the cost benefit analysis for the commission with the help of the Tulane University Energy Institute.

Commissioners Foster Campbell, Lambert Boissiere and Scott Angelle defended the current net metering rules which are in line with many other states rules and which support innovation, energy supply diversification and jobs. Clyde Holloway decided not to go forward with his motion when he saw he did not have enough votes. Thanks to everyone for your calls to commissioners, especially Angelle’s office. This is a victory. But Holloway wants to vote on this in next month’s commission meeting. So it is not over. We will send out an alert on the Delta Chapter facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SierraClubDeltaChapter and on this web site if this issue appears on next month’s LPSC meeting agenda. We are also maintaining an email list of persons who want to stay updated on Public Service Commission issues. You can send a request to be placed on the LPSC issues update list to me at hrmartin2sc@gmail.com

Woody Martin

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