Over 80 people turned out at the Trinity River Audubon Center this month on a sunny Saturday afternoon to learn about net metering. The event was sponsored by the Texas Solar Energy Society and the North Texas Renewable Energy Group.
David Powers, Public Citizen Deputy Director started by asking "Texas likes to be Number 1. What is Texas number 1 in?" The response: Not being on board with net metering. There are net metering policies now in 44 states--but not in Texas.
Net Metering Policy
Net metering is a policy where when you generate more energy than you use (through the use of solar panels or wind turbines, for example), you are able to sell back to the grid. Having a net metering policy is essential for making solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy affordable for the average resident.
One key problem is that only a few utilities have net metering; most electricity providers have no net metering policies at all. Additionally, the programs that do offer net metering are over-complicated.
Powers discussed efforts being made to develop net meter recommendations for the State Legislature which meets this year.
Among the net metering recommendations:
- Modifying policy to make net metering mandatory
- Requiring Retail Electric Providers to provide comparable information regarding net metering on their websites and on the Power to Choose websites
- Buying back excess power at fair market price
- Adopting the “Solar Owners Bill of Rights” as the policy of the state.
Net Metering Rights
Rights would include: 1) requiring all electrical providers to offer netmetering and 2) Restricting homeowner associations from prohibiting solar/wind installation. For more details on this and more, see Public Citizen's Net Metering recommendations.
And what can residents do? Powers urges everyone to "Meet your legislator, shake their hand and tell them, 'You represent me and I want a good solar policy to come out of this legislature.'"