5/25/16 – Chicago Sun-Times Letters: To save solar energy, save net metering

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May 22, 2016

I left my home state of Nevada in 2013 and moved to Illinois so that I could start my own solar panel installation business. My family and I left Nevada in part due to business uncertainty. The utility in Nevada did not want competition from rooftop solar customers. Five months ago regulators sided with the utility and dramatically raised fees on rooftop solar owners in Nevada. Now, I am fearful that monopoly utilities will jeopardize everything I have built here in Illinois.

Exelon and ComEd are making a play to end solar net metering in Illinois, and lawmakers must decide whether to pass the bill by the end of May. Net metering enables the right to self-generation and fair credit for power sent to your neighbors, and is fundamental to any sustainable solar market. Every recent independent study shows that net metering is a benefit to all ratepayers. This fair credit was eliminated in Nevada altogether, and at least half a dozen companies were forced to exit the state, or significantly reduce their staff.

That’s not the end of it. The utility companies in Illinois are also introducing mandatory residential demand charges, a rate design that punishes homeowners for the limited time when they use the most power each month. No other state in the country operates under these confusing charges. It’s inherently unfair.

The people of Illinois want clean energy options — and my company, along with many others across the state, provides this service. This competition is precisely the reason that Exelon and ComEd are trying to stop us.
Net metering creates jobs and furthers the state’s clean energy leadership. I urge Illinois lawmakers to continue paving the way.

Mike Nicolosi, CEO and founder,
Rethink Electric, Chicago