Contact: Kendra Gunby
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THE LOUISIANA SOLAR BATTLEGROUND
Solar Advocates and Utilities Clash
Solar and environmental groups all agree that the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) is siding with the Utilities when it comes to Net Metering (the ability to get credit for monthly excess solar power generation). Based on the latest round of comments returned to the LPSC there are two opposing views to the solar debate. Almost all of the utilities want to pay “avoided cost” (wholesale) rate for net excess generated power from renewable energy (RE) customers. Entergy however sees some value in RE and recommended a dollar amount somewhere between “avoided cost” and net metering as it stands today.
Renewable energy proponents beg to differ. LSES founder and director Jeff Shaw writes, “Since an independent cost-benefit analysis has not been performed for Louisiana, nor have the numerous reports from other states been considered, it is not reasonable to assume that excess solar generation is a “cost”. Cost-benefit analysis reports provided for other states using independent methodologies show that, in all cases, solar provides more benefit than cost to the utilities, ratepayers and non-ratepayers.”
LSES members Danny Bannister, Matthew Newman, Craig Page and Matthew Roberts write, “As the developing bias against residential solar energy installations appears to be driving regulation, we expect any further comments from our group, with the exception of supporting those indicated above, will not be considered by the (LPSC) Staff. We believe that Staff’s recommendations to date have no basis in fact.”
The Alliance for Affordable Energy further points out that setting a different rate for excess RE generated defeats the law of net metering. “The (LPSC) staff proposal that any exported electricity is a sale to be valued at avoided cost is directly contrary to the language and intent of the statute and should be rejected.” They go on to point out the purpose of net metering installations is not to sell wholesale power to the utilities but for a customer to supplement their own electric needs.
Shaw’s comments, which were based on analysis done by fellow LSES board member Jim Landry, point out that the numbers provided by the utilities to the LPSC and their conclusions are wrong. Shaw states, ” the data provided by the utilities to the Staff as well as the Staff’s calculations and analysis have many potential problems and it would be negligent to make any recommendations or consider any changes until this is corrected. Also, the LPSC Staff is proposing changes to the Net Metering Rules without any cost-based justification for doing so.”
LPSC Commissioner Clyde Holloway appears to be spearheading the efforts to eliminate net metering and also the existing solar tax credit in Louisiana. As heard on several radio programs in the last few weeks saying “I’m pushing to kill the subsidies” and “Don’t call me – I’m not changing my mind” and “The solar cry babies are upset that somebody is taking their candy”. He also went on to say solar people come to see him in limos so they must be getting rich on subsidies. LSES member and RE supporter Jason Garsee pointed out that LPSC pays for 3rd party assessments so why won’t they do it this time. He even brought up that Stone Pigman, one such company, was a contributor to Clyde Holloway’s campaigns. Shaw gave them four different assessments from other states to review and, to date, the staff has not considered them.
The Louisiana Solar Energy Society is a state wide nonprofit dedicated to promoting and educating people about solar energy. We are a chapter of the American Solar Energy Society based out of Baton Rouge. If you would like more information please visit www.lses.org.