Net Metering and Energy Storage See Significant FERC Support

Solar net metering saw a significant legal win this month, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to reject an attempt at making state solar net-metering policies illegal across the country.

The vote saw all four FERC commissioners in agreement to dismiss the petition lodged by the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) in April. This petition posited that FERC should hold jurisdiction over the sale of electricity from rooftop solar, rather than individual states.

Neil Chatterjee, FERC Chairman, stated “We find that the petition does not identify a specific controversy or harm that the commission should address in a declaratory order.”

This decision should help to ease concerns over a legislative shift away from net metering in the future, as the FERC’s ruling backs up recent statements by members of Congress such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who recently stated that federal law clearly intends net-metering programs to remain under state jurisdiction, and not the FERC’s.

Net metering was not the only sector of the solar market that saw positive action from the FERC recently, as a federal appeals court ruled on July 10th to uphold the FERC’s Order 841. This ruling allows transmission grid operators to integrate energy storage, as well as aggregated batteries to the distribution grid.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president, and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association stated: “SEIA applauds FERC’s unanimous decision to dismiss this flawed petition, we will continue working in the states to strengthen net metering policies to generate more jobs and investment, and we will advocate for fair treatment of solar at FERC where it has jurisdiction.”

Other Recent Legislative Action

Despite facing a tough challenge ahead in the Senate, the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act passed by House Democrats on July 1st would be a massive boost to the solar industry if successful. The bill would not only extend the 30% solar ITC through 2025 but would also introduce a direct payment system as an alternative to the ITC.

Other sections of the bill propose an investment of over $70 billion into the U.S. electrical grid, with the goal of improving it to better accommodate renewable energy as well as increase renewable energy deployment and further the development of electric vehicle charging networks.

While the fate of this bill may rest upon the November election results, the fact that lawmakers are continuing to push for solar energy in legislative action should be an encouraging signal for the industry as a whole.

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