WUOMFM

Lawmakers’ new state energy plan “devastating” for rooftop solar companies

Jul 13, 2015

Credit Michael Mazengarb / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The solar power industry is not happy with Republican state lawmakers’ new energy plan.

The bills introduced last month would get rid of the state’s renewable energy standard.

They would also make significant changes to net metering. That allows customers in Michigan to use solar panels or wind turbines on their property to lower their energy bills.

“It is somewhat overlooked because there are so many other pieces in the bill,” said Amy Heart, with industry trade association Alliance for Solar Choice.  “But it would have a devastating impact on the solar industry.”

She’s headed to Lansing this week to try to convince lawmakers to keep net metering.

Right now, utilities have to install meters on people’s homes and businesses when they install rooftop solar panels. Power companies give them a credit for the generated solar power.

“(The new plan) actually keeps customers from using their own solar that they paid for on their home to offset their electrical needs,” she said.

Instead, customers could sell their power to energy companies at a wholesale rate.

“That dramatically reduces the amount of solar that’s going to be sold in Michigan because it reduces the economic value of it,” Heart said.

According to a report published by the Michigan Public Service Commission last August, the number of rooftop solar installations tripled in Michigan from 2010 to 2013.

More than 1,500 people in Michigan used net metering in 2013, producing their own renewable energy on site. Most of them used solar panels.