Do Americans Support Net Metering?

Industry Issues

Solar net metering, or a system that grants homeowners full retail credit for the extra electricity their solar panels add to the grid, is a key issue for the industry – often times legislation about it can make or break rooftop solar success in a state.

But do American consumers support net metering? After some poking around I found that there is quite a bit of evidence that many of them feel favorably about it.

I found that polling was a good way to find out how American feel about it. Below is a (not exhaustive) lineup of polling results from 2014-2017 both nationwide and for 7 states.

NATIONAL
2015 poll: “Across party lines, roughly nine in 10 Americans support solar power, and according to a poll commissioned last spring by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), 69 percent of Republican likely voters and 80 percent of Democratic likely voters would be “unlikely” to reelect a politician who failed to raise the solar net metering cap.”

2016 poll: Survey of 1,000 people conducted by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found “75 percent of Trump voters support “action to accelerate the deployment and use of clean energy” — including solar, wind, energy efficiency, and community renewable projects… Solar net metering also polls extremely well. When asked about their thoughts on giving homeowners “full retail credit for the extra energy their rooftop solar panels produce,” 60 percent of all voters reacted favorably. According to the results, 60 percent of voters agree with the following affirmative statement: “Some people say net metering is fair because it encourages the development of solar resources, and other customers benefit from the extra solar energy that goes onto the electricity grid.” Another 31 percent agree with the statement that net metering is a cross-subsidy: “Other people say net metering is unfair because solar customers use the electricity grid, too, and need to pay a fair rate for their use. They say that otherwise, solar customers’ use of the electricity grid becomes subsidized by non-solar customers.” However, no matter where voters sit on the political spectrum, a plurality or majority think that net metering is fair.

CALIFORNIA
2015 poll: Poll co-commissioned by  California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) and Brightline Defense “shows that 90% of Californians favor rooftop solar power as a way to generate electricity, and 88% feel that more should be done to encourage rooftop solar power. The vast majority of voters polled (80%) disapprove of utility proposals to reduce compensation to customers who install their own rooftop solar power systems through a program called net energy metering, and 83% believe utility companies have no business trying to eliminate the competition from rooftop solar panel owners.”

2015 letters: “A group of sixteen farms and agricultural businesses sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today declaring their support for the continuation of solar net metering…The letter was signed by sixteen different farms, throughout California from Lakeside to Redding. The Fresno County Farm Bureau, Good Nuts, and Swett Orchards also sent letters of support for net energy metering to the CPUC.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE

2015 poll: “found that failing to protect net metered customers in Nevada would diminish Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s vice presidential appeal… Governor Sandoval appoints NV Energy’s regulators and decides on legislation that impacts the utility. At the same time, his closest political advisors are top lobbyists at NV Energy. Upon learning this, the number of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire that were unwilling to vote for him jumped approximately 30 points, from 26 percent to 53 percent. After learning that Governor Sandoval has failed to take a leadership role thus far to protect solar jobs against attacks from NV Energy, the number increased to 56 percent. Traditional Republicans were among the most affected, with a jump of 38 points from the initial question.

2016 poll: “state-wide poll found that 4 out of 5 New Hampshire voters favor solar as an energy source and a clear majority support New Hampshire’s net metering law that allows solar customers to get credit for the extra energy their solar panels produce… nearly 70% of those surveyed strongly support New Hampshire’s net metering law. More than three times as many voters support this practice than oppose it. What’s more, the support for net metering is consistent across political parties. Two thirds of both Republican and Democratic respondents support the net metering law and three quarters of Independents support it… while New Hampshire voters are well known for their support of limited government, a surprising majority supports legislative intervention with the Public Utilities Commission to continue the state’s solar net metering program. In fact, poll results show that Politicians who want to cap solar metering may find themselves out of a job at the next election. Only 14% of polled voters are more likely to vote for such a legislator, while more than three times as many voters would be less likely to vote for the legislator… Finally, although New Hampshire has traditionally one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, voters are enthusiastic about the prospect of new clean-energy jobs created by the growing solar industry in the state. The industry has already created hundreds of solar jobs across the state because fundamental policies like net metering.

A little more info on the above statewide poll: “conducted by research firm Stark Research Analytics … commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), surveyed 1,150 New Hampshire voters.”

NEVADA

2015 poll: conducted by WPA Opinion Research and paid for by the Alliance for Solar Choice. “The poll also shows strong support for solar energy efforts and net metering” The article quotes Sunrun’s Bryan Miller regarding politicians who support NV Energy’s effort to cap net metering as “political suicide for politicians.” Poll findings were “Nearly three-quarters of likely voters would be less likely to re-elect their legislative representative if they failed to support a raise in the cap. Republicans, representing 34 percent of those polled, were 69 percent less likely; Democrats, representing 41 percent, were at 80 percent; and independents, representing 25 percent of those polled, were at 72 percent. Seven in 10 likely voters support Nevada’s net metering policy, with Republicans at 70 percent, Democrats at 71 percent and independents at 69 percent.”

ILLINOIS

2016 poll: “more than 75 percent of Illinois residents oppose demand charges on electric bills and support net metering policies.

2016 poll (note: not sure if it is the same poll as above one): “conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research on behalf of [SolarCity] found that fully 78 percent of Prairie State respondents support net metering policies.”

MAINE
2016 poll: polled 405 state Maine residents as to their support or opposition to Net Metering Rollback by Augusta legislators and results were 62% opposed and 25% support.

COLORADO

2014 poll: “74% of Colorado voters would vote Yes on a ballot measure protecting solar net metering. Respondents expressed overwhelming support for a potential ballot measure that says, “each electric utility will in no way limit its customers’ participation in net metering,” and maintains that net metering credit “equals the same rate that customers pay for grid electricity.”… the poll was conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Keating Research. The team surveyed 500 voters…76% of respondents support net metering. 73% oppose Xcel’s proposal to cut the amount of credit it provides to solar customers. 61% would have a less favorable impression of Xcel if the utility proposed charging an additional fee on customers with net metered rooftop solar panels.”

2013 poll: “nearly four in five Colorado voters (78%) support solar net metering…The poll’s respondents adamantly reject Xcel’s proposal to change this policy…The bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Keating Research surveyed 400 voters throughout Colorado … Poll results show that statewide support for net metering exceeds 70 percent in every region around the state and is greater than 60 percent across all of the key voter groups in Colorado… Seventy-eight percent of Coloradans support net metering, with nearly half (45 percent) strongly in support. Only 11 percent of the state’s electorate indicate opposition to the policy, with a mere 5 percent strongly opposed, and another one-in-ten (11 percent) unsure of their views on this policy… The poll also finds that Coloradans aspires to have much more rooftop solar in the future, and intend to benefit from net metering’s fair credit: A plurality of state voters (47 percent) say they do not have rooftop solar but are interested in someday purchasing it.  Among these respondents, 80 percent oppose Xcel’s proposal to change the net metering policy.  Even among the 46 percent of state residents who are not interested in obtaining rooftop solar, more than two-thirds oppose this proposed change to net metering.

FLORIDA

2014 poll: “North Star Opinion Research conducted a poll of Florida voters for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy… The poll found that a majority of Florida voters support increased access to solar through net metering and other public policies that incentivize the development of solar across the state. 71% of those polled favor net metering, and 74% said they support a statewide legislative effort to allow companies to install solar panels on homes and business at no upfront cost to the consumer.”

GENERAL INFO

Article states that “Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia have adopted favorable net metering policies to encourage investment in solar energy.”

Institute for Local Self-Reliance has an interactive map that allows you to toggle a number of different net metering (and other) renewable policies.

Curious about my company’s project management app built for solar contractors? It allows the field and the office to communicate, schedule, swap docs and track milestones. Just shoot me an email for a demo.

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