With State Leaders Debating Solar, Distributed Generation Bill, New Report Shows Solar Power’s Benefits

Environment Washington


Adrienne Groves, (206) 568-2850, [email protected]

Seattle, WA – Homes and businesses with solar panels deliver more value to power customers and society than they receive through programs like net metering, a report said today, countering increasing complaints from utilities that solar homeowners don’t pay their fair share.

“Despite what big utilities claim, even just a few people going solar benefits everyone,” said Adrienne Groves, Solar Campaign Manager with Environment Washington. “We should be encouraging more solar, not penalizing it.”

The Environment Washington Research & Policy Center report, Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society, comes in response to widespread doubt as to the efficiency and reliability of renewable energy such as solar, and the belief that it is not cost-effective.

Net metering programs credit solar panel owners at a fixed rate — often the retail price of electricity — for providing excess power to the grid, similar to rollover minutes on a cell phone plan. The arrangements have helped solar energy skyrocket across the country, but in recent years utilities and their allies have ramped up their attacks on the programs, declaring them unjustified “subsidies.”

Today’s report tells a different story. Of the 11 net metering studies reviewed, all found that solar panel owners offered power customers net benefits, such as reduced capital investment costs, avoided energy costs, and reduced environmental compliance costs.

 Eight of the 11 studies also found that the value of solar energy was higher than the average local residential retail electricity rate. The median value of solar power across the studies was nearly 17 cents per unit, compared to the nation’s average retail electricity rate of about 12 cents. In other words: utilities that provide retail rate net metering tend to underpay solar panel owners, not subsidize them.

Solar advocates hoped today’s report would shed new light on the debate over whether the state should continue to grant cash payments and other incentives to homeowners who install solar equipment. Governor Jay Inslee as well as solar advocates are pushing to continue this program and invest in the value of power generated by home-based systems, in the face of lobbyists for large-scale utilities focused on weakening strong renewable standards and incentive programs. Modernizing the system of solar energy incentives through programs like net metering will prompt a large expansion in renewable energy in Washington.

“Solar power’s rewards are far greater than its costs,” said Groves. “That’s why we’re calling on state leaders to extend and expand solar energy incentive programs and expand opportunities with net metering by raising the net metering cap statewide.”



Environment Washington Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentWashington.org

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