Monday, March 17, 2008

Net Metering Bill To Be Signed Next Week

A bill that would require all municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the state to offer "net metering" programs to customers who generate "home-grown power" from solar panels, wind turbines or the like is likely to be signed into law next week, according to House speaker Andrew Romanoff.

Romanoff said during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon that HB 1160, which he called "one of the most significant bills of the decade," would be approved by Gov. Bill Ritter at a solar energy facility.

The proposal would limit the amount of customer-generated power for which utilities subject to its requirements must grant credit on an electricity bill. For residential customers, the maximum is ten kilowatts. For commercial or industrial electricity users, the limit is 25 kilowatts. A utility could choose to grant credit on an electric bill for generation of more than that specified maximum amount of power.

HB 1160 does not apply to all municipal utilities. Only those with more than 5,000 customers are subject to the law. Rural electric cooperatives would be authorized to require customers seeking to take advantage of net metering programs to meet specified interconnection standards and provide appropriate insurance.

The lead sponsor of the bill is Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton. It was carried in the Senate by Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus.

According to a website maintained by the American Wind Energy Association, 30 states currently require utilities to grant net metering credit to at least some customers who generate their own power. The U.S. Department of Energy has published a map that shows a state-by-state summary of net metering laws around the nation.