Require Net Metering in Alabama
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Net Metering allows anyone to generate their own solar power during the day and use the public grid at night. Currently, 47 states have a net metering policy, and Alabama is one of only three states that does not. Net metering encourages and facilitates residential solar power. Without net metering, Alabama residents are financially discouraged from using solar energy because the costs are prohibitively expensive.
Power companies are a natural monopoly, because they are the only supplier in the market and leave the consumer with no other options. However, solar panels disrupt this monopoly by giving the consumer another option. Alabama Power wants to remain a monopoly in order to increase their profits. They want to discourage the use of solar power, and our state is allowing them to do so. The Alabama Public Service Commission regulates Alabama Power, and Alabama Public Service Commission, the Alabama Governor, and Alabama legislature all have the ability to mandate net metering.
In the State of Alabama, net metering is not mandated, but instead it is up to the utility company whether or not to offer net metering. The Tennessee Valley Authority provides net metering to the areas it serves in northern Alabama. However, Alabama Power has much lower Purchase of Alternative Energy rates (PAE rates). PAE rates are similar to net metering, but energy produced for the grid is purchased at much lower rates than the retail rates. This means that Alabama Power charges customers around 12 cents per kWh of energy. However, if someone with solar panels generate excess power, Alabama Power only pays them 2-3 cents per kWh in return. This means that if someone wants to be able to generate power for their home during the day and use power from the grid at night then they must generate 3 times more power than they use!! Additionally, solar users are charged $5 per kilowatt of generating power per month from Alabama Power simply to be connected to the grid. The grid tie fee and low PAE rates mean that it takes more than double the time for the consumer to recoup the cost of the solar panels.
Alabama is one of only three states that does not allow its people to generate their own renewable energy in a cost efficient manner. Alabama should be incentivizing people to switch to renewable power instead of penalizing them for trying to go green. If more people use rooftop solar in Alabama then there will be a decrease in pollution and the consumption of fossil fuels. Also residential solar will bring new jobs to Alabama. There are now more Americans employed in the solar energy industry than by the extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas. The solar industry has many great opportunities in the future. If the solar industry in Alabama is allowed to develop, more workers, contractors, and businesses will become employed. This new industry will bring green collar jobs to Alabama. An investment in renewable energy that everyone can take part in is an investment in a sustainable future.
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