Controversial Changes To Connecticut's Solar Power Program Set To Become Law | Connecticut Public Radio

Controversial Changes To Connecticut's Solar Power Program Set To Become Law

May 9, 2018

Environmental and industry advocates are taking issue with a particular piece of a wide-ranging energy bill Governor Dannel Malloy plans to sign into law. The measure makes big changes to rooftop solar and a policy called “net metering.”

Net metering lets customers with solar panels on their roof earn bill credits for extra power they make. Think of it like running the meter backwards.

Utilities have opposed the idea, saying rooftop solar customers are overcompensated, which passes hidden costs to other customers.

Under the new law, rooftop solar customers would have the option of selling some, or all, of their power at a presumably lower rate to be set by state regulators.

Chris Phelps, state director of Environment Connecticut, said that could hamstring new rooftop solar developments.

“You’re going to sell all your electricity back to United Illuminating or Eversource at a rate well below the retail rate, and then buy it back from them at the retail rate,” Phelps said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense economically, to homeowners and businesses who go solar.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which supports the bill, said existing customers and some new customers are grandfathered in under the old net metering rules.

Stephen Lassiter with the Alliance for Solar Choice, a group of solar installers, said the measure makes rooftop solar’s future uncertain.

“It could negatively impact residents’ ability to go solar in Connecticut,” Lassiter said. “And you could see less solar energy in Connecticut in the future.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, regulators voted to require that all new homes built in California have rooftop solar panels.