Apr 11, 2013 7:44 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Higher Solar Bills For Louisiana?

Solar energy customers could pay more, although they invested in solar panels to save money. It will boil down to a vote by the Public Service Commission.

As it stands now, solar customers receive retail credit for a portion of the electricity they generate. At the end of the month, customers pay a utility company for any extra energy used.

The PSC is proposing to give solar customers less in credit...Forcing them to pay more.

PSC Commissioner Cylde Holloway says it's about fairness, and having solar energy customers start paying more to cover costs.

"They get so many advantages that people on regular electricity don't get. So I'm trying to even the playing field a little bit because when we have to provide their back up power, meaning like it's cloudy like today they're not producing any electricity so they're have to provide power. So when they're producing, the person on electricity has to supply the back up power for them, we pay for it. So I'm trying to even the playing field for them a little bit."

The proposed changes would increase utility bills for solar power consumers. Tracy Hebert and his family invested about six thousand dollars into solar panels, and it's cut their utility bills by about half.

"My utilities bill now is just under two hundred dollars a month. But prior to the solar panels it was almost five hundred dollars a month," Tracy Hebert said.

But the PSC could change that.

"If they go ahead and change that, that will adversely affect not only the pay back to our customers, over four thousand now in the state of louisiana and growing, but it also adversely affects the companies installing the systems," Tucker Crawford, the president of Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, said.

PSC Commissioner Clyde holloway argues that solar energy customers don't pay infrastructure costs like regular customers.

Customers like Hebert argue that there are several benefits to the current system, which help with their return on investment on the solar panels.

"Keep the net metering in place because it's beneficial to not only myself but anyone else on solar power. It also helps those on fixed incomes, they can reduce their electric bills it helps all classes of people."



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