Solar is taking hold, so incentives may need to let go.
The short version:
- Net metering, the idea that homeowners with solar panels can sell excess energy back to the power company, has proven problematic.
- Homes with solar panels are still connected to the grid, and still require utility companies to maintain that grid.
- Solar panels add to income inequality because those who can afford them are forcing those who can’t afford them to pay higher prices from the utility company.
- This is because the utility company is forced to buy the excess energy back from net metering customers for higher than market value prices.
This may be true in some states, that have high net metering incentives, but it isn’t true everywhere. Where I live for example, net metering customers are still charged a minimum monthly charge for the power bill. This is a grid maintenance fee and helps spread the cost of the grid across everybody who uses it.
That being said, I agree with Ike Brannon, the author of the article, when he says, “Our incentives for solar energy should reflect this reality.” The solar industry is changing and incentives, aka unnatural rewards to drive a desired behavior, may need to change also.