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.
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.
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.”
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. Keep reading