“Another View — Dan Clapp: Net metering is not a solar subsidy,” by Dan Clapp, published by the Union Leader.
As New Hampshire’s largest local solar installer, we are proud to have seen our business grow by leaps and bounds as the cost of our product (solar panels) declined by more than 75 percent in the last 10 years, a perfect antidote to two of our state’s most pressing problems: high energy costs and an environmental crisis caused by reliance on fossil fuels. We hired 16 new full-time employees in 2015 (45 total) and will continue hiring this year if the Legislature raises the arbitrary cap on retail net metering and allows us to meet market demand for our product.
In its October 2015 report, the Acadia Center found that solar energy backfed to New Hampshire’s utility grid is worth between 19-24 cents per kilowatt-hour, plus an additional 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour of societal benefits. This finding corresponds to similar studies in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, acknowledging solar’s “unique value to the electric grid by reducing energy demand, providing power during peak periods, and avoiding generation and related emissions charges from conventional power plants.”
Retail net metering is not a subsidy. It is, if anything, below market compensation for solar generators. We trust that New Hampshire’s legislators, when they thoughtfully consider the issue, will come to the same conclusion as our neighbors Vermont and Massachusetts, who increased their retail net metering caps. Solar is good for business, good for ratepayers and good for New Hampshire’s environment. Utility companies should modernize and take advantage of distributed grid technologies, not fight them to sustain a 20th-century business model.