Net metering is the practice of allowing residential and other electric customers to get financial credit for the electricity they feed into the public grid. This happens when customers’ solar systems produce more power than the customer uses. The amount of net metering allowed and the financial credit customers get per unit of electricity provided are important because they can determine how beneficial it is to install new home and commercial solar systems. This, in turn, impacts how much clean energy the state gets from such distributed solar systems.
The last major obstacle to agreement on future net metering rules may have been eased by a deal Duke Energy and a group of three solar installation businesses reached last week. Other solar businesses and clean energy advocates had already come to a deal with Duke over the issue.
The deal allows residential solar customers to continue being credited and charged for electricity at equal rates for up to 15 years. It was filed with the state Utilities Commission on May 20 as a new stipulation to Duke’s original petition for approval of its new net metering rules.
The pressure was on to reach some agreement among the parties, since Duke’s original net metering rules expire at the end of the year. Most clean energy advocates view a delay on setting new rules as an unacceptably risky potential disruption for solar installation, a major economic driver in our state.
Clean energy advocates such as the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Vote Solar, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and the Solar Energy Industries Association supported the terms negotiated with Duke even before the latest addition. “We believe this deal could set the initial stage for more programs aimed at increasing solar access while also helping the state reach its carbon reduction goals,” says Lindsey Hallock, Southeast Senior Regional Director at Vote Solar.