PSE net metering customers have been receiving notification that their production incentive payments might be reduced for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. OPALCO customers' production incentives were already reduced by about 40% for 2014-2015. Benton and other small PUDs have closed their incentive program to new applicants. SnoPUD will be contacting customers soon with information about the future of its incentive payments.
Utilities are reaching their incentive caps. Per the law, utilities may pay out up to 1/2% of their revenue or $100,000 in production incentives, whichever is greater. When the caps are reached, utilities must proportionally reduce incentive payments. Some utilities are opting to close the program instead. This is controversial, but because the incentive program is voluntary for utilities, it is not illegal to do so.
Several factors have contributed to utilities reaching their incentive caps. First, solar is a success in Washington. Solar growth has exponentiated. On average, homeowners and businesses are installing larger systems than they used to and they are specifying Washington-made equipment, which has a higher incentive rate. We also enjoyed a sunny and mild winter and spring that, while gorgeous, reduced utility revenues substantially, thus reducing their incentive payout caps.
What You Can Do
Last year solar stakeholders attempted to pass a bill that would close the existing production incentive program -- preserving the rates for customers -- and create a new incentive program. Solar Installers of Washington (SIW) is working with other solar stakeholders to pass a bill in the upcoming session. You can help. Here's how:
- Call or email your local officials and ask them to support a solar bill this session. You can find your legislator's contact information with District Finder.
- If you're pressed for time, SIW has made it easy for you to contact your legislators with a pre-written message that you may customize.
- Additionally, take a few minutes to sign the petition to Committee Chairs Doug Ericksen and Jeff Morris. These chairmen have tremendous influence over a solar bill's journey to the governor's desk.
- And finally -- especially if you're a resident in the 10th District -- take a minute and thank Representative Norma Smith for her stalwart support for solar. She was a real champion for us last session and deserves our gratitude.
WSW Office Manager and SIW President