Value of Solar – Wyoming Net Metering Proposed Change.

by John Osgood

 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the occupation of Solar Voltaic Installer is expected to be the fastest-growing occupation from 2018-2028.

  • In the U.S. one megawatt-hour of solar-produced electricity now costs $50, or 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh).
  • In the U.S. one megawatt-hour of coal-generated electricity now costs $102, or 10.2 cents per kwh.
  • In the U.S. one megawatt-hour of wind-generated electricity now costs $45, or 4.5 cents per kwh.
  • In 2016 world-wide fossil-fuel-fired electricity was costing around 5 cents per kwh.
  • Small-scale natural gas-fired electricity was costing around 3 cents per kwh. 
  • In 2016, a major commercial solar installation bid a price of 2.9 cents per kwh on one project.

Existing Wyoming utility rate statute, 37-3-101: “All utility rates shall be just and reasonable, and all unjust and unreasonable rates are prohibited.”
Study after study has shown the value of solar to be higher than that of traditionally generated electricity.  In a comparison of 16 studies of the value of solar-generated electricity, 12 showed a higher value, sometimes much higher.  Of the 4 studies valuing solar lower, 3 were done by utilities; of the 12 showing higher solar value, 4 were done by public utility commissions and 8 were done by non-utility organizations. 
The proposed change to the Wyoming net metering statute (W.S. 37-16-101 thru 104) would devalue customer-generated solar electricity by about 40%.  It would no longer give a 1 kilowatt-hour (kwh) for 1 kilowatt-hour credit to the customer-generator for electricity generated; it would give the customer-generator a 0.6 kwh credit for each 1 kwh produced.  The goal of this legislation is to lessen the incentive to install solar panels; it is part of a nationwide coordinated campaign by electric utilities and has been going on since 2014.

Wyoming utility statutes require that electricity be provided to customers (rate payers) at the lowest possible cost – since the lowest possible cost is now solar, it is inappropriate to try and rein solar in.  The whole world is going in a renewably-generated electricity direction, and Wyoming should be part of it.  Utilities have paid lobbyists who love to manipulate legislators, which is what is going on now.  The sponsor of the proposed net metering change legislation, Rep. Dan Eyre of Uinta County, has two major coal-fired power plants in his district.  Tell your legislators that the proposed change to the state’s net metering law is not in anyone’s best interest and they need to vote against it when the legislature convenes in January.
—For references to studies or statistics cited, contact John Osgood

Net metering legislation is being drafted by the Joint Corporations, Elections, & Political Committee. It was on the agenda of their September 16-17 meeting in Jackson. The minutes of that meeting should be available soon.
As is typical of interim committee legislation, press on this issue has been scant. Read Bill Would Kill Residential Solar, Critics Say for background on this issue.

The next meeting of the committee is 11/18-11/9 in Cheyenne. Net metering is on the agenda and public comment is accepted (see the rules).
None of our local legislators are on the Corporations Committee. It’s still worthwhile to contact members of the committee. 
Now is a good time to contact your local legislators about this draft legislation. Let them know how you feel about it before the legislative session.


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