Solar cost shifting

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Michael Sanserino’s June 3 article on solar power “Prospects for Solar Power Brighten” (PowerSource) fails to home in on the not-so-sunny side of tax credits that are driving the growth of rooftop solar panels. In reality, this growth is driven in part by a policy called net metering, which is essentially a subsidy for the wealthy that unfairly shifts costs to lower-income and minority groups.

Currently in place in most states, net metering rules require utilities to purchase excess power from rooftop solar panels at the full retail electricity rate. Reimbursing solar panel users in this manner ends up shifting the fixed costs of grid maintenance to consumers without solar panels, who usually have lower incomes and are minorities.

For example, a recent story in The Wall Street Journal chronicles how rooftop solar is powering a $4 million-plus home in Connecticut. Looked at this way, net metering is essentially a subsidy that is benefiting the affluent at the expense of the poor.

There’s no question that policies like net metering need to be reformed to ensure that this cost shift no longer occurs. Consumers deserve to understand the full picture when it comes to the growth of rooftop solar.

Illinois House of Representatives
Springfield, Ill.


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