Jacksonville utility JEA has imposed unfair rules on homeowners in its territory that want to go solar. In response, a coalition of solar supporters joined together earlier this year to file a lawsuit to reverse the policy. Yesterday, the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court denied a motion by JEA to dismiss the lawsuit. The decision is a step forward to ensuring all JEA customers receive fair credit if they choose to go solar.
Under a policy that went into effect in April, JEA claims to be implementing “net metering” – but is actually not doing so. Net metering is the system utilities like JEA use to compensate solar owners for the excess electricity they produce – and is required by Florida law. Solar customers are supposed to be able to offset their energy consumption from the grid by lowering their bill by the exact amount of energy they produce. For example, if solar homeowners use 850 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a month — and they produce 400 kWh of electricity from their solar panels, their total electric bill (the net) should be for 450 kWh of electricity. JEA no longer wants to do that.
Under its new policy, JEA will purchase excess energy from a solar customer for 3.25 cents per kilowatt hour. It will then turn around and sell it to other, non-solar customers right next door for 10.3 cents, all calculated on an instantaneous basis.
JEA’s flawed policy significantly reduces the value of rooftop solar. This new policy significantly lengthens the time for a solar customer to recoup the cost of their investment — even more so for working families that are less likely to be using the energy they produce during the day.
The utility must now file a response within 20 days, (by November 19). We will keep you updated as the suit continues to work its way through the court system.