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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 11/ 7/2010

Making it pay to go solar

By Betty Ann Kane, Washington

Regarding Anya Schoolman and Jefferson Morley’s Oct. 31 Local Opinions commentary, “D.C. solar’s newest power couple”:

When power begins flowing from new solar panels on the White House, the District’s utility regulators will welcome the Obama family as new customer-generators. More than 200 homes and businesses in the District now generate at least some of their electricity via solar energy, an increase from practically none a few years ago.

On June 18, the D.C. Public Service Commission adopted cutting-edge “net energy metering” rules to facilitate expansion of solar and other renewable energy sources. The commission’s net energy metering rules effectively allow a customer-generator’s meter to account for their solar-produced electricity, lowering their Pepco bills.

Contrary to what Ms. Schoolman and Mr. Morley wrote in their piece, excess electricity produced by customer-generators with an interconnection agreement is not “a gift to Pepco.” Rather, the commission’s net energy metering rules provide that small interconnected customer-generators are to receive credit for the dollar value of this electricity in their Pepco bills. If customers produce more electricity in a month than they consume, the credit carries over to the next month’s bill, so it is never lost.

The installation of “smart meters” that is now underway for all Pepco customers in the District will further enhance the value of “going solar.” Smart meters will enable interconnected customer-generators to be compensated for the full value of producing electricty during peak-demand periods when it is most needed. We’re committed to making sure Pepco deploys these metering technologies correctly so that customers receive the full benefits.

The commission appreciates the valuable efforts of the Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative and other neighborhood renewable energy groups to make this effort successful.

The writer is chairman of the D.C. Public Service Commission.

By Betty Ann Kane, Washington  | November 7, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, economy, energy  
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I am a residential solar system owner in DC. Ms. Kane is an apologist for Pepco.

Here is her quote about excess production of electricity by solar home owners: "it can never be lost." Excess production rolls over from month to month,...BUT,

Here is a quote from an actual Pepco bill: "As of your August 2010 billing, you have been billed 12 consecutive months on Net Energy Metering with a credit of 670 kWh. Per the terms of the tariff (see Page 31, item 3) your credits have expired. Credits can begin to accumulate with your next billing.

I interpret this as "thanks for the gift of 670 kWh." How does Ms. Kane interpret this?

In contrast, her comments on "smart meters" are merely outrageous.

Pepco has publicly admitted, on a number of occasions, that the new meters, as installed, are not capable of NET metering, and will have to be reconfigured to perform that function.

Pepco has also stated publicly that these meters cannot possibly measure customer generated production at the same time they are performing the "NET" function. So, we cannot possibly "be compensated for the full value of producing electricty[sic] during peak-demand periods when it is most needed" as things presently stand. Her commitment is as bankable as the spelling.

It would require a seismic adjustment of the propensities of the DC Public Services Commission to reverse their passive collusion with Pepco over decades of obstruction of renewable energy initiatives undertaken by the citizens of the District. Obviously Ms. Kane isn't heading in that direction.

Posted by: TheKahuna1 | November 7, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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