Comments demonstrate strong support for state control of solar policies | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Release Date: 
Friday, June 19, 2020
Press Contact: 
Cara Cooper
Kentucky Solar Advocacy Network

Comments demonstrate strong support for state control of solar policies
Kentucky solar customers, state regulators ask FERC to maintain states rights

National solar advocates Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar submitted more than 20,000 public comments in support of states rights to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), marking the close of the public comment period in Docket EL20-42

The New England Ratepayers Association, a secretive group with strong ties to monopoly utilities, has asked FERC to take away states' ability to administer net metering. Net metering ensures solar owners receive fair credit for the solar energy they produce, but do not use themselves.

"We've seen tremendous grassroots support for solar net metering over the years here in Kentucky," said Cara Cooper of the Kentucky Solar Advocacy Network. “Decisions around the future of solar in our state need to be made at the local level where local people can be a part of the process, not at the federal level where decision makers don't have our best interests in mind."

Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar collected and submitted comments from almost 350 Kentuckians. They were joined by Louisville Gas and Electric/Kentucky Utilities, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, the Public Service Commission of Kentucky and the Kentucky Solar Industries Association, all of which intervened in the case. 

In total, Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar submitted nearly 9,000 comments from solar owners, more than 2,000 from workers and 331 from solar business owners.

The federal petition currently on FERC’s desk would override all states’ rights to set net metering policy, and if passed could do great harm to independent solar installers, as well as future and existing solar customers, by slashing the return on investment they expect to receive through net metering. 

This is, incredibly, even more damaging than the Kentucky state legislature’s Senate Bill 100, the 2019 anti-net metering bill whose full impact is still being determined. 

SB 100 didn’t impact existing solar customers. And all attempts to reverse SB 100 in future legislative sessions will be fruitless if the Trump administration approves this petition.

“Two years ago my husband and I purchased solar panels for our home. Although this required a significant chunk of our savings, we knew that with net metering, this was a sound investment for people on a fixed income. Distributed solar is profoundly important for personal energy budgeting, community energy resilience, and the reduction of greenhouse gasses and fossil fuel co-pollutants. I urge you to ... deny this petition and let states make their own energy choices,” wrote KFTC member Cathy Clement, from Lexington, in her comments.    

“I have severe asthma and it matters to me how we get our energy. Please do not make it harder to have solar make sense economically. My asthma treatment costs my insurance company around $28,000 a year. Externalities like air pollution from coal-fired power just make people like me pay more,” wrote Megan Naseman of Berea.

There are approximately 2.2 million residential net metering customers and 100,000 net metering businesses across the country. Together, they have invested billions of dollars in solar, with the expectation of recovering those costs through net metering. 

In addition to the return-on-investment of solar owners, all grid participants are at risk of higher electricity bills if the program disappears. Without continued investment in local solar, there will be fewer local clean energy jobs, increased reliability issues, grid maintenance costs and a less resilient system that is more vulnerable to extreme weather events.