Utility companies are afraid of their customers going solar. As a result, they are trying to drive up their costs. Not only are they trying to charge solar customers more, but they are also undermining the rights of individuals to go solar. How can utility companies get away with saying that you owe them money because you are using less of their energy?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Associations, in the past year the number of homes with rooftop solar systems has grown more then 80,000 totaling up to about 270,000 homes total. This shift to new technology of solar panels will eventually completely end the century-old system under which utility companies have monopolized providing power to everyone. Utility companies are quickly realizing the threat solar energy has to their business, and that in the long-term solar will not only compete with them but will win.
Utility companies are starting to charge solar customers a fee they are calling a “stand-by charge”. In Virginia, Dominion Power is charging this fee to residential customers with a 10kW or greater solar system. The power industry is saying homeowners should pay these fees because of the supposed increased costs of distribution for solar customers. However, since these customers are already net-metered, and paying for excess power consumption, it would seem that the standby charge is an unnecessary fee that will raise costs for solar producing homes. If anything, these customers should receive a discount for providing the grid with clean energy and reducing the utility's transmission line losses.
Utility companies do not have the right to charge people for making energy-efficient decisions. Solar customers spend thousands of dollars to install their solar panels. Utility companies should instead invest in smart-grid technologies and renewable energy efficiencies. The industry should reward and promote those homeowners who make the decision to go solar. This would eventually provide a long-term equal solution for all their customers.
To read more about this issue see the Washington post article titled Utilities and solar advocates square off over the future
Also read a customers response to this article