Public Utilities Commission of Ohio announces decision on net metering changes

By Luke Sulfridge on December 20, 2018

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio revisits the section of code that details specific requirements for net metering in Ohio every five years. The most recent version of the rules were released late last year, but were challenged for some problematic sections. Yesterday, the commission ruled against a rehearing on most of those sections.

Of the changes, the most concerning is a section that reduces compensation for net metered customers.  Currently, some Ohioans in investor owned utility territory are given a small credit each month for the capacity they bring to the utility grid. More than 120 comments opposing this change were submitted from residential generators in 2018 alone. Although net metering will continue to be an effective way to utilize solar, this change fails to recognize the full value net metered customers provide to the grid, and moves Ohio in the wrong direction. Small solar generators deserve to be compensated for the energy and capacity value their systems provide. This change is unjustified.

Other sections of the updated rules are favorable. Historically, net metered Ohioans were limited to producing and consuming power on the same parcel of land. The new rules will allow for adjacent properties to utilize the best space for solar regardless of where the electric meter is located. This is not the same as virtual net metering, but does allow more flexibility in system locations. This is a popular tool in some of Ohio’s neighboring states.

Another section helps so called “shopping customers”. Those participating in a Community Choice Aggregation program will be able to continue in that agreement when they add solar to their home or business.  Historically, being a net metered solar generator prevented homes and businesses from also participating in community choice aggregation programs.

Lastly, the cap on system size is being raised from 100% to 120%. This will allow solar homes and businesses the option of sizing their systems much closer to their true historic usage with a reduced fear of overproducing.

Solar United Neighbors testified in support of the positive changes and against the reduction in capacity compensation. The next opportunity for input in net metering rules will be in Ohio’s grid modernization proceedings, PowerForward, early next year. The net metering rule review process is also scheduled to restart soon as well.