Greetings to the community of solar enthusiasts and supporters! A critical development is on the horizon for Oregon’s solar energy industry, and it’s time to talk about it. As you may know, utilities in various states have succeeded in efforts to modify or weaken net metering policies, posing challenges to the growth of residential solar power. Unfortunately, this contentious issue has now made its way to the Beaver State.
Idaho Power’s Proposed Changes
The initial conversation revolves around Idaho Power’s ratepayers in Oregon, particularly in the Ontario area. Idaho Power is currently altering its net metering (NEM) regulations within its Idaho jurisdiction and has submitted a request to Oregon’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) for permission to do the same for its Oregon-based customers. The proposed change involves a significant reduction in the NEM credit rate during non-summer months, while at the same time doubling the credit during specific peak hours in the summer season. The utility justifies this alteration by labeling the existing NEM policies as “not fair” to all its customers. The Oregon Public Utility Commission has until January 1, 2024, to deliberate and reach a decision regarding this proposal.
PGE Enters the Fray
Concurrently, Portland General Electric (PGE) has initiated dialogues with stakeholders to discuss potential changes to net metering. Leveraging the oft-cited, yet unverified, argument of “cost-shifting,” and contending that the current NEM structure results in excess generation without adequate storage, PGE is also considering reducing the credit rates for its customers. This process, however, will necessitate a comprehensive investigation by the Oregon PUC, which is expected to last approximately a year. PGE has announced plans to publicize its proposal in late November.
The Potential Impact on Oregon’s Solar Industry
A rollback of net metering could have profound and detrimental effects on Oregon’s burgeoning solar industry. It is instructive to consider the California example, where similar changes led to job cuts and a staggering 40% decrease in the demand for rooftop solar installations.
The Oregon Solar + Storage Industries Association (OSSIA) remains steadfast in its commitment to oppose any attempts by utilities to undermine net metering policies. OSSIA’s Executive Director and Policy Director are proactively assembling a coalition and formulating a strategic plan to counteract these proposed changes. The intention is to safeguard the interests of the solar industry as well as its diverse customer base.
Who is the Oregon Solar + Storage Industries Association (OSSIA)?
The Oregon Solar + Storage Industries Association (OSSIA) is a key advocate for solar and energy storage sectors in Oregon. Comprised of industry stakeholders, OSSIA aims to advance renewable energy markets through policy advocacy, public education, and stakeholder engagement. The organization is committed to fostering a sustainable and equitable energy landscape in the state.
Timing and Incentives
It is worth noting that these potential changes come at an inopportune moment. Recently, solar energy has been receiving incentives designed to make it more accessible to low- and moderate-income households. Moreover, utilities have publicly acknowledged the necessity of behind-the-meter solar installations to meet their clean energy obligations. Thus, the timing of these proposed rollbacks could hardly be less fortuitous.
We urge you to stay tuned for further updates and information on how you can become actively involved in this vital issue. The future of Oregon’s solar energy landscape may well depend on our collective action.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. Together, we can make a difference for the future of solar energy in Oregon.