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Ellettsville hearing on net metering; State agency reviewing power rules June 17, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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HeraldTimesOnline.com

State agency reviewing power rules

By Dawn Hewitt 331-4377 | dhewitt@heraldt.com

June 11, 2010

Those who generate their own electricity with solar panels or wind turbines but are still “on the

grid” sell their power to investor-owned electric companies. Net metering is an agreement that

allows consumers to offset the cost of the electricity they buy from a utility by selling homegrown

power back to the utility.

But state regulations limit how much power small-scale generators may produce to 10 kilowatt

hours.

The regulations were established in 2005, but with the increased emphasis on alternative energy,

interest in net metering is soaring.

Now, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is holding public meetings to hear from

consumers and other interested parties on existing net metering rules. One will be 6 p.m.

Wednesday at Edgewood Junior High School, 851 Edgewood Drive, in Ellettsville.

The commission hopes to gauge the effectiveness of the existing rules and determine whether the

state could benefit by updating them. In 2005, 16 consumers had signed up for net metering. In

2009, 133 had, generating a capacity of 504 kilowatts of electricity, according to an Indiana

Utilities Regulatory Commission report.

Indiana’s existing net metering rules spell out the requirements for both customers and utilities.

Currently, the rules apply only to investor-owned utility companies, such as Duke Energy, but

not rural electric cooperatives. As defined by state law, an eligible net metering customer means

an electricity customer who owns and operates a solar, wind or hydroelectric generating facility

with a capacity of less than or equal to 10 kilowatts. The utility company must offer net metering

to residential customers and public primary and secondary schools that have installed such

renewable energy systems.

“Anyone interested in clean, renewable energy production in Indiana should attend this

meeting,” said Terry Usrey, who is involved with Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network.

“Those who own or plan to own solar or wind systems have a financial stake as the IURC rules

allow utilities like Duke to pay the small system producer much less for electricity they send to

the utility grid than the utility charges for electricity it sells to the system producer. This is a

clear disincentive for homeowners to install a renewable energy system.

“Ultimately, anyone who wants to see a shift from utility-owned coal burning power plants to

clean, renewable, citizen-owned and distributed power generation should attend this meeting and

urge the IURC to amend its rules to require the utilities to offer net metering to all customers and

to pay the small producer for electricity at the same rate it sells electricity.”

An Indiana Senate bill introduced but not passed this year would have allowed small-scale power

generators to produce up to 100 kW. Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey limit

consumer-generated renewable power to 2,000 kW, and Ohio has no upper limit on home-grown

energy, according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s “Connecting to the Grid” report

and the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.

Read the 2009 net metering reports filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission at

http://www.in.gov/iurc/files/2009_Net_Metering_Required_Reporting_Summary.pdf.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2010

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