US Senate scraps retroactive net metering protection provision

A new provision under the Energy Modernisation Act now requires the DOE to ensure owners of DERs are properly compensated. Source: Flickr - Europressedienst

Last Wednesday, the US Senate passed a long-awaited energy bill as a bipartisan measure to modernise the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems and align them with more climate-friendly solutions.

The bill, approved 85 to 12, is set to respond to the US’ ever-transforming energy landscape. It promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As might be expected, the bill includes certain provisions that could prove useful for solar. Notably however, a proposed amendment that would protect against retroactive solar net-metering was not included in the final writing of the bill.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

In February, US senators Angus King and Harry Reid attempting to put forward an amendment aimed at protecting rooftop solar customers by limiting state utilities and agencies from retroactively changing net-metering rates for existing customers. The proposed amendment was created amidst the country-wide debate over net-metering; which occurs most prominently in California and Nevada, Reid’s home state, where the Public Utilities Commission recently slashed rates and added higher fees for solar customers.

Despite the amendment being a modest one, far from a takeover of the regulatory process, it was ultimately exempt from the final bill.

However, a net-metering related provision that did make the bill now requires the US Department of Energy to conduct a study on net-metering and release related guidance to ensure that owners of distributed energy resources (DER) are adequately compensated for the energy they add to the grid. The study would then be used to serve as unbiased guidance to help adjudicate DER battles at state level, such as those recently highlighted in Arizona and Hawaii.

In spite of the missing amendment, the bill significantly promotes renewable energy requiring operators of the grid to upgrade the system, with a focus on large-scale storage systems for electricity to better accommodate wind and solar. The bill has received mixed reception, as in addition to its energy efficiency and renewable provisions, it also offers support to the fossil fuel industry – causing some to deem it a counterproductive measure.

Despite its urges to adopt the omitted King-Reid amendment falling on deaf ears, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) still applauds the passing of the Energy Modernisation Act.

“This legislation contains several notable wins for solar energy,” said Christopher Mansour, vice president of federal affairs for SEIA. “Chief among them are the inclusion of solar heating and cooling as technologies that can meet the federal government’s renewable portfolio standard, language directing the Energy Department to identify appropriate costs and benefits for the valuation of distributed generation solar, provisions to improve permitting of solar power plants sited on federal lands, and directing the Energy Department to study avian populations and to establish baseline scientific information.

“We look forward to working with House and Senate leaders to ensure that any final measure sent to the president has strong pro-solar policies and leaves out any provisions harmful to our industry,” concludes Mansour.

The bill now awaits final consideration by the US House of Representatives. 

8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

July 12, 2024
The Pomerantz Law Firm has brought a class action lawsuit against Singapore-headquartered solar manufacturer Maxeon Solar Technologies concerning whether “Maxeon and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.”
July 11, 2024
Dimension Renewable Energy has announced a new name and a plan to operate 500MW community solar projects by the end of next year.
July 11, 2024
US energy project developer Avangrid has installed the first modules at its 202MWdc/150MWac Powell Creek PV project in Putnam County, Ohio.
July 11, 2024
Europe imported around 33GW of solar PV modules from China in the first four months of 2024, representing 43% of total Chinese module exports, according to US energy analyst Clean Energy Associates (CEA).
July 11, 2024
Solar developer EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) has commissioned a 175MW (210MWp) solar PV plant in the US state of Mississippi.
July 10, 2024
The US generated 236.12TWh of power last year, while in Germany over 12% of power was produced by solar, the highest among all G7 countries.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Solar Media Events
October 15, 2024
Santiago, Chile