Business & Industry Solar

Why the Net Energy Metering Debate Misses the Point

RMI, 25 September, 2014.

It’s no secret that net energy metering (NEM) is a controversial topic in the electricity world these days. Customers love the way it helps solar PV offset their utility bill and adds clean energy to their home or business. Some solar advocates argue it is foundational to the continued growth of rooftop solar (as an early-market mechanism, it’s been tremendously successful). And many utilities loathe it, seeing NEM as a “free ride” for solar customers (since a rooftop solar customer could, for instance, net to zero over the course of a month and have a $0 utility bill, thereby avoiding paying for the value of being grid-connected), while also arguing that they can add more renewables to the grid at a lower cost through utility-scale projects than can customers through individual distributed systems on residential rooftops. Then there’s the issue of thebenefits that distributed solar brings to the grid, which is a whole other can of worms.

But the debate around the continuation, expansion, reform, or abolishment of NEM distracts from a much bigger opportunity to unleash innovation and investment in distributed energy resources (DERs) in ways that are better for everyone: customers, DER providers, and utilities alike…

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