09 Aug '11, 10pm

Utilities stand to gain a lot from net metering -- but ratepayers and solar array owners get left in the dust:

Utilities stand to gain a lot from net metering -- but ratepayers and solar array owners get left in the dust:

I recently got a copy of a utility bill for a Minnesota business that has a 40 kilowatt (kW) solar PV array. I wanted to learn how quickly they'd pay off their array with the electricity savings. I was shocked. Payback time was 30 years. Even if the business owner had received a generous $2.00 per Watt rebate on top of federal tax incentives, it would still take 22 years to recoup the investment. It all came down to the way utilities account for solar power under "net metering" rules. A quick tutorial. Net metering essentially lets a utility customer run their meter backward if they have an on-site electricity generator (like rooftop solar). So if I'm a commercial customer who uses 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a month but my solar panel generates 4,000 kWh, I only pay for the difference: 6,000 kWh. This is supposedly a great deal, because rolling back the meter at the retai...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/solar-power/2011-08-08-clever-accoun...

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