Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Legislative Hearing on Net Metering

March 24 at 3pm, House Special Committee on Energy

HB 31 “An Act relating to net energy metering..."

Net metering advocates need to testify in favor of this bill's strong points and against its weakness. You can testify at the Homer Legislative Affairs office. Call the Kenai LIO (907-283-2030) if you would like to attend there. Or call 1-888-295-4546 when the meeting starts and explain that you are interested in testifying on HB 31.

SUPPORT An annual accounting period over monthly accounting to maximize benefit from renewable energy installations.

OPPOSE The exemption of Rural Electrical Cooperatives pending member approval.

ENCOURAGE In creasing the installation size limit from 25 KW to 100 KW to better accommodate participation by businesses. Final language that will establish true net metering for all railbelt utilities in a timely fashion.

Additional Info

HB 31 is one of two Net Metering Bills (the other is HB 66) brought before the House of Representatives.

*Negatives of HB 31*
HB 31 UNDERMINES the momentum toward net metering in AK by exempting electric coops from the bill's net metering rule. Many electric utilities in Alaska, including the largest ones, are coops. Electric coops are key to the effectiveness of the rule and need to be included. (The coops can waive the exemption, but only after the membership takes a vote, which can't happen until the RCA enacts a regulation setting forth the procedure for such a vote. All this will waste ratepayers' and RCA's time while delaying any decision on net metering for years.)

HB 31 also exempts utilities that generate 100% of power with alternative energy systems - ie exempts southeast utilities using hydro. Southeast residents have also sought the benefits of net metering and should not be excluded regardless of their utilities' source of power.

*Positives of HB31*
Annual accounting period (which allows a better payback on renewable systems than, say, a monthly accounting period). With annual accounting, excess generation from wind turbines during high seasonal wind cycles or from solar arrays during sunny seasons can offset lower production during periods of low wind or shorter days.

Unlike HB 66, HB 31 does not have a 1% aggregate limit on net metered generation. (This is a feature that the utilities tend to like because it limits thetotal number/power generation of net metering participants).

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