MO Cooperatives and Net Metering – Get the Facts Straight.

MO electricity cooperatives have been talking about solar for a while now. Recently they have published articles to discourage people to sign a net metering petition. Before you do that, be sure you know how it will hurt the cooperative.

Co-ops say: “Solar is going to make you pay more for your power.”

It won’t. That petition is actually designed for a more fair method of accounting for all the extra (solar) power that co-ops & electric companies are annually profiting from. Solar owners continue to contribute their equal share for “operating costs” monthly – even if they don’t need to buy any power from them.

The $30/month “meter fee” keeps the lines maintained and other operational costs covered. Solar Owners pay for the new meter to accommodate the solar production. They also continue to pay the $30/month meter fee even if they don’t use more power than they generate themselves.

Not everyone buying solar does it for the financial benefits. Sure, most do because it fixes their energy rate to buy the solar panels & equipment (rather than buying per watt from the utility company). Others do it for environmental reasons. Some Solar Owners don’t ever use enough power to go above that $30/month meter fee before installing solar. Should you charge people more because they didn’t turn their lights on enough? Of course not. That argument is ridiculous (and straight off a co-op publication).

Clearly this is just new territory for our local co-ops. Like anything new, it needs to be rationally embraced. Solar isn’t going to “go away” if you give it the cold shoulder.

Co-ops urge: “Tell them you are in favor of affordable and reliable electricity – not subsidies.”

Since oil and gas dominate the subsidies… and you don’t want to be a part of subsidies… you’ll want to see how low solar is on a subsidies chart…

Solar is affordable: What is your plan for energy coming from coal plants who haven’t got an affordable plan to meet EPA standards? Have you asked them how they plan to continue to give you affordable energy? Do you notice your utility rates creeping up on you lately?

Solar is priced competitively with local electricity rates. Get a free bid from us and we’ll show you exactly how this works. It pays off (we will show you the price per watt while it pays off) and then gives you free power. It’s a set rate that won’t sneak up on you, and comes with equipment and workmanship warranties. We call that affordable.

Solar is reliable. Just ask our off-grid customers who live in freedom without co-op drama in their mailboxes. Do you really think that electric companies and even the US Government are putting up solar because they think coal & gas are the most affordable & reliable?

The sooner co-ops acknowledge this, the sooner we can all work together and make the most of power available from all sources to all customers. 

Solar tied to your grid reduces the need for coal power when the sun shines, because it gets passed down the line for others to use.

How concerned is your co-op about the net metering law?

  • Anyone installing solar has to get their project approved. The net metering outlines the process as well as what happens when power is generated in excess of what that customer needs.
  • Co-ops tend to make up rules as they go and don’t stick to the net metering agreement as made up by state standards. They should pre-approve systems, not after the fact. And they should inspect and approve post-installation within 30 days. They make it a slippery slope of ridiculous timelines instead of following the law. Customers waiting 30 days is hard enough – let alone MONTHS as some cooperatives often drag the process out to be. For coops to appear concerned about laws regarding net metering is a joke when you know how little they actually follow net metering right now as it is.
  • What is really going on here? Are co-ops so “dog-eat-dog” that they’ll make up emotional arguments to make sure solar doesn’t impose on their energy monopoly?

All co-op members are concerned about the same thing – PAYING MORE THAN THEIR FAIR SHARE.

Since you’re all members of the co-op, why not work it out?

What Solar Owners like about it now: When they produce and use equal portions in a month, they get retail for their power made and it levels out. In other words, if they make as much as they use, they don’t owe for electricity used. They only owe when they use more than they make. Then they pay what everyone else pays.

What Solar Owners want to change: When they give more than they take in a month, they want it to roll over past that month. They made a personal investment and they aren’t asking for any free handouts. They still plan to pay the membership fees. They just don’t want to give it away at 3 cents a watt only to take it back at 8 to 13 cents a watt (that’s what’s happening now).

Someone down the line got THEIR SOLAR POWER and paid retail for it. It’s power the coop didn’t buy from the coal plant, and they charged retail to their customer for it. They just want credit to roll over. That’s it!

If it doesn’t get more fair, solar advisors will start recommending a different option… Disconnect and go off-grid so you stop paying for your own power generated.

Today, solar advisors recommend grid-tie for most everyone. That’s right, they encourage Solar Owners to feed your utility line with their own investment. It eliminates the need to buy and store batteries, and offers the excess energy to the surrounding community, so less generated power is wasted. If people don’t get greedy on the receiving end it might stay that way.

Here are some links for further information:

http://www.vox.com/2016/2/26/11116230/rural-electric-co-ops-solar: This is an article about co-ops and their shift to going solar over formerly “cheapest” contender, coal.

http://energy.gov/eere/office-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy : This is the governing body over all things energy related.

http://www.renewmo.org/net-metering.html : Renew MO is all about net metering being fair, and gives some great insight to how this actually works.

http://psc.mo.gov : Public Service Commission is who governs all electric companies.

http://www.dsireusa.org : If you want to know more about energy efficiency and upgrades, rebates, incentive programs, tax rebates, grants, and loans look here. To save time, click on your state, then “apply filter” then continue to follow down whatever you are looking for. It may be solar, or it may be rebates for a new energy star appliance.