Solar advocates in Jacksonville have been fighting since fall of 2017 to protect our solar rights. In October, Jacksonville’s electric authority, JEA, proposed to abolish net metering and put in place a policy that undervalues the electricity produced from rooftop solar. JEA’s proposed changes harm residents’ ability to go solar in several ways. The most critical of these threats is the utility’s decision to meter and credit solar generation instantaneously.
Under previous JEA policy, customers’ solar energy production is measured monthly, coincident with their electric bill. Any solar energy generated that wasn’t immediately consumed would be exported to the grid. At the end of the month, a homeowner would only be billed for the difference (net) between the total amount of electricity used and the amount produced. If the homeowner produced more than is used one month, those credits roll over to the following month. This allows homeowners to save money by offsetting their electric bills.
All of this changes under JEA’s new policy. Now, all excess electricity produced from solar will be valued at a lower rate. Even more harmful, excess solar electricity will be instantly credited, not credited over the course of a month. By moving from monthly to instantaneous crediting for excess solar generation, JEA’s new policy drastically reduces the amount of credit solar owners will receive for their solar generation.
Think of it this way: before, your solar system likely produced more energy during the daytime than you needed in your home. The excess electricity flowed to your neighbors’ homes. You would have received full credit for this electricity. At night, when your panels stopped producing electricity, you’d be able to apply that excess credit towards any electricity you purchased from JEA. Under the new policy, you can’t use up your own excess production credits to offset your bill. Why? Because the new policy entirely eliminates the “net” in net metering. It does so by reducing the time frame you have to accrue credits from your excess solar production and then use them from monthly to instant-by-instant. JEA dropped a double whammy on rooftop solar by simultaneously lowering the amount of the credit for excess production and dropping to instantaneous measuring of excess production.
What’s more, the JEA board voted to implement these changes without giving Jacksonville’s community of solar supporters a sufficient opportunity to weigh in on the process. JEA’s decisions to reduce the credit rate for solar and to shorten the abolish netting by moving the metering period from monthly to instantaneous will seriously undercut the value of going solar in Jacksonville. For customers, that means far fewer bill savings. For the city, that means fewer residents going solar. But, if we can ensure that solar energy is fairly credited on customers’ bills, we can protect solar in Jacksonville.
Solar United Neighbors is working closely with Jacksonville’s community of solar supporters. We’ve organized hundreds of Jacksonville residents to petition JEA to scrap their harmful new policy. We’ve turned out multiple solar supporters to advocate for net metering at the November JEA board meeting. We’ve taken to the radio and the newspaper to educate Jacksonville residents about how JEA’s new policy violates their solar rights.
In April of 2018, we joined with the League of Women Voters with representation from Earthjustice to sue JEA for violating Florida law. It is critical that JEA hears from its customers. Sign our petition to let the utility know you oppose its unlawful solar rule.
- Filing against JEA – This is the official legal challenge to JEA’s actions.
- JEA’s distributed energy policy – This document contains the full text of JEA’s proposed changes to the way it would credit solar customers.
- Guest column: JEA moves backward for solar power customers – This op-ed from Solar United Neighbors explains how JEA’s solar rate cut would harm our ability to go solar.
- Jacksonville Electric: Gambling with Florida’s energy future – This is an in-depth article from Vote Solar that explores the technical problems of JEA’s decision
- Net metering – This is our guide explaining what net metering is and why it is important for solar.
- “JEA sued over how it compensates customers with solar panels,” Jacksonville Daily Record 4.24.18
- “JEA faces lawsuit over payouts to customers with solar panels,” WTLV-TV 4.24.18
- “Solar power frustrations,” WJAX-TV 11.29.17
- “Solar Co-op Advocates Express Opposition To JEA Policy Changes,” WJCT-FM 11.28.17
- “After JEA Policy Changes, Solar Co-op Puts Duval Plans On Hold,” WJCT-FM 11.1.17