Power Companies Are Proposing An Extra Fee for Solar Customers

Sunlight is free, but if you use it to make electricity your power company wants you to pay. Utilities in many states say solar-friendly rate plans, conceived to promote alternative energy sources, are too generous and allow solar customers to avoid paying for the grid even though they use it. Solar installers say the utility industry is trying to hold onto customers — and protect profits — as U.S. homes and businesses become more efficient and generate their own electricity. Rooftop solar systems would not be economical with some of the new fees or rate changes being pushed by utilities.

Solar advocates argue rooftop systems instead benefit other customers and the grid. When a home uses the power produced by solar panels, it pulls less power through the system. Even when the panels are producing more power than needed at home, the excess goes to the closest house that needs power — and not through the whole system — as a matter of physics. Both scenarios mean less stress on the grid.

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