FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2020
Contact: Tom Lalley
Bipartisan Coalition of 31 AGs Urges FERC to Reject Petition to Bring Solar Net Metering Under Federal Control
Group seeks to upend existing state-based net metering programs, which would dramatically slow the growth of rooftop solar and other kinds of distributed electricity generation.
Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 31 Democratic and Republican state attorneys general led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today urging the Commission to deny a petition for declaratory order filed on April 14 by the secretive New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) that requests the Commission assert federal jurisdiction over net metering — the practice of requiring utilities to compensate owners of rooftop solar panels for electricity they supply to the grid. If granted, the petition would dramatically disrupt net metering arrangements crafted by state policymakers in nearly every state in the U.S., which have played a vital role in the proliferation of roof-top solar and other kinds of distributed electricity generation.
In their letter, the AGs called the petition “contrary to the law” and asked FERC to “respect the states’ recognized authority to regulate retail sales of electricity and related billing practices under the Federal Power Act (FPA).” A subset of sixteen AGs led by Attorney General Healey submitted comments to FERC detailing the extensive legal and practical problems with the petition. The attorneys general of Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia also submitted separate comments.
“Net metering is a smart, consumer-focused program that saves customers money on their electricity bills, and supports our state’s thriving $13.2 billion clean energy economy,” said Attorney General Healey. “We won’t allow this meritless petition from a shadowy lobbying firm to take away decades of precedent and undermine the progress our states have made toward meeting our climate goals and saving money for our ratepayers.”
“Every month, millions of Americans receive a credit on their electricity bill as a direct result of their decision to invest in solar and other renewable energy technologies on their property,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “These homeowners and small businesses made this investment with the reasonable expectation that their participation in longstanding state-run solar incentive programs would not only benefit the environment, but also save them money down the line. As the country finds itself in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, we urge FERC to reject this misguided attempt to upend state net metering programs.”
“NERA’s petition is cloaked in pro-consumer rhetoric, but is designed to undermine the market for rooftop solar,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “States like Maryland operate net metering programs to ensure that retail customers are properly compensated for their investment in rooftop solar. Upending the status quo, which has been fundamental to the buildout of solar resources across the country, would unnecessarily jeopardize the continued development of these environmentally important resources.”
The AGs’ comments emphasize that state jurisdiction over net metering “fits squarely within the states’ jurisdiction under the [Federal Power Act] and the Energy Policy Act of 2005” and that states have “relied on the Commission’s precedent in developing retail net metering programs.” The AGs warn that if FERC were to reverse itself and bring net metering under federal jurisdiction, the decision would “result in nationwide uncertainty regarding existing net metering programs and undermine states’ clean energy initiatives, many of which are required by state law.” In addition, the AGs point out that “millions of retail customers who relied on existing net metering programs when making substantial investments in rooftop solar will be financially harmed and thousands of solar industry jobs will be placed at risk.”
In addition to Attorney General Healey, the bipartisan coalition included the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State Impact Center) is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. For more information, visit our website.