Updating Net Metering Policies

WHEREAS, the U.S. electric grid delivers a product essential to all Americans; and

WHEREAS, electricity runs our economy—it powers our homes, businesses, industries, and the smart technologies and innovations that enhance our quality of life; and

WHEREAS, the United States needs a diverse supply of safe and reliable electricity; and

WHEREAS, the electric power industry is leading the transformation to make the grid more flexible and more resilient to meet the growing demands of our digital society; and

WHEREAS, the domestic development of alternative energy sources should be concurrently beneficial to our country’s environment and to our country’s economy; and

WHEREAS, the electric power industry directly employs more than 500,000 American workers and is the nation’s most capital-intensive industry, investing more than $85 billion per year, on average, in capital expenditures, including investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, there is growing interest in rooftop solar panels and other small-scale, on-site distributed generation (DG) systems; and

WHEREAS, it is recognized that when these rooftop solar and other DG systems first came to market years ago, many states approved a billing plan called net metering to encourage their introduction; and

WHEREAS, some states now have net metering policies that credit rooftop solar or other DG customers for any excess electricity that they generate and sell using the grid and require utilities to buy this power; and

WHEREAS, the utilities are typically required to buy the excess electricity at the full retail rate despite the availability of lower rates through self-production or through wholesale market providers; and

WHEREAS, the full retail rate of electricity often includes the fixed costs of the poles, wires, meters, advanced technologies, and other infrastructure that make the electric grid safe, reliable, and able to accommodate solar panels and other DG systems; and

WHEREAS, when net-metered customers are credited for the full retail cost of electricity, they effectively avoid paying the grid costs, and these fixed costs for maintaining the grid then are shifted to those customers without rooftop solar or other DG systems through higher utility bills; and

WHEREAS, net-metered customers pull energy from the grid in the absence of sunshine, and must use the grid to feed energy back into the grid when the solar unit is generating more power than the customer needs; and

WHEREAS, all consumers who use the electric grid should pay to support its maintenance and to ensure its reliability; and

WHEREAS, net metering policies allow customers with rooftop solar or other DG systems to unfairly profit from exporting excess energy back to the grid while penalizing customers with basic energy needs who cannot afford rooftop solar or other DG systems; and

WHEREAS, African American households experience disproportionate levels of poverty, exceeding the national average, and have lower household income than their non-African American counterparts; and

WHEREAS, a lack of electric power affordability disproportionally impacts economically disadvantaged sectors and threatens the long term financial stability of our country; and

WHEREAS, shifting costs from those who can afford DG systems to low-income customers and others unable to afford or qualify for rooftop solar leases is an unfair financial burden; and

WHEREAS, energy regulation, including net metering policies, should protect vulnerable populations from drastic price increases or cost-shifting caused by energy production conversion from conventional to renewable sources; and

WHEREAS, the use of rooftop solar and other DG systems now has become more widespread, and many states are reviewing their net metering polices; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Policy Alliance, which includes the leadership of — Blacks in Government, National Association of Black County Officials, The National Bar, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, National Conference of Black Mayors and the World Conference of Mayors — encourages state policymakers and regulators to recognize the value the electric grid delivers to all and to:

Update net metering policies to require that everyone who uses the grid helps pay to maintain it and to keep it operating reliably at all times; and

Create a fixed grid charge or other rate mechanisms that recover grid costs from DG systems to ensure that costs are transparent to the customer; and

Ensure electric rates are fair and affordable for all customers and that all customers have safe and reliable electricity.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, other federal officials, and Governors and other state government officials as appropriate.