Idaho Power proposing "Hourly Net Metering" policy with no grandfathering

Per some recent updates, and a nice letter updating me on the new state of affairs they hope to pass… even though I don’t yet have solar due to the roadblock in Idaho named JS…

The new proposed system moves from the current net metering system (monthly net, kWh for kWh) to an hourly net metering. This is quite the change, and various details suggested in the letter:

  • Current retail power costs don’t change for kWh purchased. This is a tiered system involving mid-tier costs of $0.102/kWh in the summer and $0.0807 in the winter.
  • Power sold, at the end of each hour, will be credited initially at $0.087. Over the next 8 years, this will taper down every two years to what they estimate as $0.044/kWh. Power purchased will be purchased at retail rates.
  • There’s no grandfathering. Everyone will be put on the new rate schedule.
  • They’re adding a “no export” solar option that, presumably, is for systems that won’t export to the grid.

My first thought is that there are going to be an awful lot of really upset people with south facing, $4/W systems. That’s what the installers were asking and, presumably, getting a few years ago. They’d “prove” how much you’d save in 30 years, assuming 3% YoY increases in power costs for 30 years, net metering remaining untouched, etc. Not gonna pencil out.

That said, it seems like a reasonable system. Any self consumed power is effectively consumed at the full retail rate (as you don’t pay for it) versus systems like buy all sell all that only pay you bulk prices. And, even in 8 years, the price paid is higher than their bulk pricing, because power is being generated at endpoints and near other endpoints.

It prevents using the grid as an infinite, free, seasonal, MWh class battery, which is a reasonable thing to do. Using the power grid extensively without paying a dime is not a long term sustainable solution.

It encourages producing energy when you use it – so a pure south facing system is less valued than an east-west facing system, or even a southwest facing system. This matches grid behavior, with (at least on the Idaho Power system) morning and evening demand peaks. A system that can match these for large parts of the year will be worth more than a system that optimizes for peak kWh per panel without considering when it’s produced.

It also encourages local demand management. Delaying flexible loads like hot water heater recovery until solar is online would be worth quite a bit long term.

And, it encourages local energy storage. Unfortunately, the roadblock initialed JS won’t approve any of that (he’s apparently not convinced PowerWalls are properly NEC compliant, and supposedly likes to pick fights with PEs over power systems they’ve designed). Fortunately, there’s some work in progress to remove him and some workarounds in place.

Of the various changes to net metering I’ve seen, this seems a pretty reasonable one. However, I’ve not seen anywhere else try it.

Thoughts? Similar rate schedules anywhere?

submitted by /u/Syonyk
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