Myth-busting falsehoods on private solar net metering reform

Posted | February 27, 2018
  • House Bill 227 (HB 227) will still allow solar to thrive in Kentucky and protect non-solar customers.
  • Current private solar net metering customers are grandfathered.
  • Future private solar net metering customers would still receive credit for excess energy.
  • Tell your elected officials you support private solar reform.

Now that House Bill 227 — a bill that would reform private solar net metering and grow it in a way that is fair for all Kentuckians — has advanced out of the House of Representatives and moves to the Senate for further consideration, those comfortable with the status quo are out in full force in a dangerous fact-distorting campaign that has real consequences for the average Kentuckian.

A recent op-ed against net metering reform offered a series of rebuttals staunchly defending the status quo.

Let’s shine some truth on House Bill 227 by busting some of the common myths against it.   

Myth: House Bill 227 devalues excess solar energy by 70 percent.

Fact: The state’s energy companies are currently required by law to purchase excess energy — even if it’s not needed — from private solar net metered customers at a premium that is subsidized by other customers: roughly 300 percent what energy companies would pay any other supplier for the same electricity. With House Bill 227, excess energy from private solar net metered customers is valued the same as energy from any other supplier.  

Myth: House Bill 227 effectively ends net metering and solar in Kentucky.

Fact: Solar will continue to thrive in Kentucky. Installers are quick to say that costs for installations have dropped by 70 percent. House Bill 227 grandfathers existing customers even if they sell their property and still allows anyone to install a private solar system on their home or business. The bill also allows for a payment for excess energy directly to the customer.

Myth: Utilities profit significantly from the excess energy private solar net metered customer generate. 

Fact: The op-ed cited a 27 cents per kilowatt-hour energy charge that is the peak rate for customers who voluntarily sign up for a time-of-day energy rate option. Left out of the argument presented is that incorporated into every energy charge, regardless of  the time of day, are a lot of an energy company’s fixed costs — the hard-working people and vast infrastructure it takes to deliver energy at a moment’s notice and especially when it’s needed most.

By law, energy companies’ returns in Kentucky are set and regulated by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The notion that they are pocketing the difference on the backs of private solar net metered customers would be — to use a Politifact term — “pants on fire.”

Myth: Kentuckians aren’t subsidizing private solar net metered customers.

Fact: The value of energy is roughly three cents per kilowatt-hour in Kentucky. Private solar net metered customers currently receive roughly 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. The seven cents per kilowatt-hour difference is a premium subsidy that other customers, including those who can’t afford solar, are currently forced to “pick up the tab” on for excess energy generated by private solar net metered customers. 

When you put all the facts into plain view, you’ll see that House Bill 227 is a vote for energy fairness for all Kentuckians.  We can and should do better than the status quo.  

Tell your elected officials to support private solar net metering reform through House Bill 227 and continue private solar growth in a way that is fair and sustainable for all customers.