The Center for Biological Diversity (Center) has filed a brief urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject a pending petition aimed at gutting net metering for distributed-solar power by putting it under federal control.
A declaratory order petition filed in April by the New England Ratepayers Association claims that retail net metering should be under FERC jurisdiction and that distributed-solar customers should have higher utility bills. That would end states’ ability to enforce their own net-metering policies, which encourage rooftop solar installations.
“Net metering for rooftop and community solar is crucial to combating the climate crisis, and this group’s arguments to end it are unfounded,” said Howard Crystal, legal director of the Center’s Energy Justice Program.
“We desperately need more solar power, not less. FERC should immediately reject this petition because the association has not made a single credible argument for why retail rate design should be under federal jurisdiction,” he adds.
States across the country use net-metering policies to fairly compensate rooftop- and community-solar owners for excess electricity their panels send to the grid. These programs have been critical drivers of clean energy investment and job development for decades, and FERC long ago ruled that they are under state, not federal, control.
FERC regulations only permit a declaratory order petition where necessary to clarify the petitioner’s legal obligations. The New England Ratepayers Association is a front group that refuses to disclose its members.
“The association’s refusal to disclose its members is reason enough for FERC to dismiss the petition outright. This group does not demonstrate how net metering rules cause it or its members harm, so it’s not entitled to be heard,” Crystal adds.
The association’s petition also relies on thoroughly debunked industry talking points that solar customers are unfairly subsidized, ignoring both the enormous subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry and distributed clean energy’s power to curb pollution, improve the grid and otherwise advance the vital clean energy transition.
FERC has also failed to respond to the Center’s Freedom of Information Act request concerning the association’s communications with the agency.
Photo: The Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice web page