Democrats join chorus opposing net metering changes

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020

A group of congressional Democrats called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this week to reject a petition that could upend net metering policies in states across the country.

Led by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), the letter from 24 House and Senate lawmakers adds to the growing opposition to a petition filed by the New England Ratepayers Association.

“If FERC granted NERA’s petition, it would overturn long-held precedent and give the federal government decision-making power that has long belonged to the states, including the authority to set rates, terms, and conditions for programs,” the lawmakers said. “These decisions are best left to state regulators.”

NERA filed a petition in April asking FERC to effectively curtail a state’s ability to set net metering policies for rooftop solar owners and their ability to sell excess power to the grid (Energywire, April 20)

The petition argued such a policy should fall under the jurisdiction of FERC. That could reduce the rates utilities must pay for the excess power, opponents say.

The response to the petition has prompted a vocal outcry from defenders of renewable energy, who have criticized the group behind the petition as an alleged shadow organization over its refusal to name its financial backers (Energywire, April 29)

As part of its letter, the group of Democrats called on NERA to disclose its supporters to ensure transparency into why the group was making a request for a policy change that could affect the entire country.

“At a time when states need to ensure low-cost and reliable energy transactions for consumers, FERC should not upend 45 existing state policies — and certainly not at the behest of a group funded by twelve anonymous donors whose interests are unknown to FERC or the public, and which may be antithetical to the goals of the Federal Power Act,” the lawmakers wrote.

FERC has yet to weigh in as to whether it will take up the petition. A public comment period on the petition runs out June 15.