What Does Net Metering Mean in WA?
Since 1998, Washington state law has provided for all our 60+ utility districts to allow small amounts of distributed energy generation, like wind and solar, to tie into the broader electrical grid. The now-revised law (RCW 80.60) allows each utility to net-meter distributed generation projects, measured in kilowatt-hours, up to 0.5% of their 1996 peak hour’s demand.
Until recently, solar represented a very small amount of Washington’s total electricity production. But these days, solar is growing quickly. In recent years, several utilities have hit their “0.5% net metering caps,” at which point the state law allows each utility to choose how to proceed. Some have allowed more solar to interconnect above the 0.5%; others have shut out new installations completely. But no utility has yet tried to rewrite the rules.
Now, Snohomish Public Utility District is considering a proposal to replace net metering for solar power with a “buy all, sell all” system. What’s that mean?
What it means for Rooftop Solar
According to SnoPUD’s own calculations (see above graphic from July 2017 Board Packet), forcing solar owners to comply with their plan would delay the payback time for an average residential solar installation from 9 to 17 years. And that doesn’t yet include the possible denial of the federal tax credit.
We don’t yet know the PUD Commissioners’ timeline for voting on this huge decision. We hope there is ample time for SnoPUD customer comment and industry data on this critical issue.