Last year, the state decided to slowly decrease how much Hoosiers with solar panels get paid to deliver energy to the grid. But the fight over net metering might not be over. Some municipal utilities — who the law doesn't apply to — are considering changing their net metering rules.
The City of Richmond is considering paying solar customers with excess power the lower wholesale rate plus 25 percent, rather than the higher retail rate. And instead of getting those dollars off their next bill, they would get a check — but only if that amount is for $5 or more.
Solar advocates say the rate is unfair and that it would discourage homeowners from installing solar panels. Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance President Laura Arnold says higher net metering rates are supposed to be “an incentive to get customers to do the right thing, to assume responsibility for their own energy consumption.”
Richmond Power & Light General Manager Randy Baker says, on the other hand, solar customers that generate enough energy aren’t paying as much for distribution.
“The costs for maintaining that grid fall to the remaining non-solar customers,” he says.
Baker says, right now, no one is taking advantage of net metering in Richmond. He says the idea to change the city’s laws came from the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA). About 60 Indiana cities are members of IMPA, including Richmond and Jasper — which is considering a similar change.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.