Talking to our Elected Leaders about Solar
November 21, 2015
A number of folks have asked - What do I say to my representatives when they aren't sure whose numbers to trust, utility numbers or the solar industry numbers?
You might remind your rep that the legislature formed a net metering task force that commissioned an independent study of the costs and benefits of solar. That independent assessment concluded that for every dollar invested in solar, solar provided $2.20 to $2.70 in benefits to the commonwealth at large.
That means if we invested $40 million in raising the caps, as the utilities suggest, that investment will provide the Commonwealth with $100 million in solar benefits.
You might compare these numbers to the roughly $10 billion a year Massachusetts spends on electricity.
Based on these estimates, a customer with a $100 electricity bill would receive a benefit of about 60 cents a month if we lifted the cap by 2%.
You might remind the rep that the net metering task force report issued 7 months ago, recommended conducting an independent and comprehensive assessment of all the costs and benefits of solar energy and using that assessment to determine fair and equitable compensation for grid operators and solar owners.
You might ask your representative why the administration has not yet commenced that study? Should we set our rates based on independently verified data with a robust public review process or arbitrarily behind closed doors?
You might ask your representative if he/she was aware of any other programs that have generated $2.50 in benefit to the Commonwealth for every dollar invested?
Why would we put the brakes on such a successful program?
You might also ask your representative if they have considered the cost of building the natural gas pipelines the utilities have recommended?
Has your rep considered how much last winter's rate hikes which cost their constituents $3 billion dollars in higher electricity bills last winter alone?
That's a hundred times more money than the amount the utilities claim is necessary to raise the solar caps.
Kind of puts things in perspective...