Protect solar in Jacksonville!

Solar supporters stand up for their solar rights at November’s JEA board meeting.

Solar advocates in Jacksonville have been fighting for the last several months to protect their solar rights. In October, the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) proposed changes to its net metering policy that undervalue 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 current 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. If over the course of a month, a system produces more electricity than the customer uses, the customer receives a credit for this excess electricity. They can use these credits to directly offset their electric bills, saving them money.

All of this changes under JEA’s new policy. Now, any 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 credits solar owners will receive for their solar generation.

Angela DeMonbreun (left) pictured with Warren Clark (right), lead volunteer for the St. Johns County Solar Co-op, after appearing on the Melissa Ross radio show.

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 timeframe 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 netting 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 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 real 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.

And, it’s working! In November, JEA board chair Alan Howard said he would be open to revisiting their net metering policy. Thanks to the petitions we’ve submitted, JEA is now considering scrapping the harmful instantaneous netting provision. With a reinstatement of monthly netting for solar, we can ensure solar owners get to offset their own use with the electricity they produce.

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