Today, The State Journal published energy reporter Sarah Tincher’s story on the differing views of HB2201.
In her story, she quoted FirstEnergy PR guy, and our old friend, as follows:
“FirstEnergy is concerned about the way we credit customer generators because we credit them back at a rate that is equal to the retail cost they pay for electricity,” said Todd Meyers, a spokesman for FirstEnergy’s West Virginia subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison.
“Those smaller generators get the benefit of using our electrical infrastructure to sell back the electricity they generate without paying to use that infrastructure,” Meyers said. “In principle, we don’t believe it is fair for the rest of our Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers in West Virginia to subsidize small generators.”
So, now FirstEnergy’s PR guy is directly contradicting FirstEnergy’s chief lobbyist Sammy Gray’s statements to the WV House Energy Committee and the WV Senate Judiciary Committee that FirstEnergy interpreted the “cross-subsidization” language in HB2201 as applying only to direct costs of connecting individual net metered customers to a power company.
Has FirstEnergy changed their minds? Or was Sammy hiding something from WV legislators?
Ms. Tincher does a great job of blowing Toddy’s argument out of the water, by pointing to studies done by PSCs in Missouri and Mississippi:
Among such reports is a Missouri Energy Initiative study, released in winter 2015, which evaluated the benefits and costs of net metering in Missouri, which has a similar fuel mix and retail electricity pricing to West Virginia.
The study quantified the benefits of load reduction and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to the costs associated with cross-subsidization among consumer groups, and increased administrative costs in managing a new customer class between 2008 and 2012. According to the report, the net effect was positive for the state each year.
The MEI study also suggested benefits of a decentralized energy system, reduced energy prices, local economic boost from manufacturing and installation of net metering systems.
Another study, conducted by Synapse Energy Economics Inc. for the Public Service Commission of Mississippi in September 2014, modeled the costs and benefits of net metering to the state of Mississippi, which doesn’t currently employ a net metering program. The agency’s Total Resource Cost assessment, which included costs of solar panel installation and administrative costs, as well as benefits of avoided costs to the utility, suggested net metered solar rooftop would result in $27 per MWh of net benefits to the state of Mississippi.
FirstEnergy and AEP had better watch out. If similar studies are done for the WV PSC, they may have to end up paying net metered customers more for their electricity, not less, to pay us for the benefits we give to all customers. By the way, that is called a feed-in tariff.