When you are able to install solar on your home, you are not only creating clean local carbon-free energy, but you are also saving money on your bill, and helping the local utility to which you are interconnected. While it is true that the utility loses the chance to sell you a kwh for each kwh you produce, they are able to sell the excess power that you may be producing to your neighbors. The Net Metering law protects you as a homeowner and makes certain that you are compensated the full retail price of each kwh you produce, whether you use it yourself, or put it onto the grid. In the absence of a Net Metering contract, the utilities may not give you the fair value for this clean electricity created at the retail location. Not only does this fairly compensate those who install solar, it helps support our society’s goals in terms of reducing carbon-based energy dependence.
Washington has had a strong Net Metering law since 1998, and it has been appropriately updated a couple of times since then as we have learned more, and as solar has become more mainstream. When the Net Metering law is updated, we have also seen that the thresholds for how many net metered systems the utilities have to accept need to be increased. Our Net Metering law is now in dire need of an update again after languishing for the last several years while the legislature has been understandably busy. It is crucial that we update it again this spring to stay in line with the new federal policies and incentives available. Without an update, there will be some utilities, including PSE, which will exceed the required threshold for the amount of net metered systems and have signaled that they will dramatically reduce the compensation to the solar producers.
WASEIA (WA Solar Energy Industry Assoc) has been doing some heavy lifting in this regard for years, which mainly involves educating our legislators and more recently has required rebutting utility-oriented misinformation.
As an interested citizen, if you want to help out or gain better understanding of the issues, getting involved with WASEIA is one of the best ways you can do so. This industry group has recently created an individual membership tier for people to participate and contribute. We recommend you take a look and get engaged through this organization.