Which solar incentive would you choose? Net metering, battery storage or both?
The JEA board Tuesday will consider four major solar advancements and a major solar net metering policy change for this community.
Three of the four advancements should be applauded but the battery storage incentive and net metering policy change should undergo more discussion and market research.
Let’s start with the proposed solar advancements:
• JEA wants to modify its 2010 resolution of 30 percent energy generated by nuclear power to expand to include clean energy generation sources (i.e., solar, landfill gas). Bravo.
• JEA is proposing five new 50-megawatt solar facilities by 2020. This would bring its utility-scale solar generation to 300 megawatts (approximately 8.8 percent of its 3,400 total megawatt production). Encore!
• SolarMax is a new proposed rate for large commercial users that are unable to put solar on their rooftops (they lease). These users would benefit from a locked-in energy rate for 10 years and co-branding. Clap for economic development.
For the fourth solar advancement, JEA is proposing a solar battery storage incentive program that includes a 30 percent rebate up to $2,000 that could be combined with the 30 percent federal investment tax credit.
Incentivizing customers to buy a battery with their solar system helps JEA reduce its peak demand especially on winter mornings.
JEA estimates the cost of a battery between $4,000-$7,500 installed based on discussions with national battery makers like Tesla and Trojan. But what if the true cost is more like $10,000-$18,000 installed in today’s market (e.g., Tesla Powerwall is not even available in Florida yet)?
Does that make this incentive program infeasible for those who want rooftop solar?
Also, since a typical solar system lasts 25 years and a battery lasts around 10, a system will need at least two batteries over its lifetime. A low adoption rate will make the overall program ineffective.
JEA‘s proposal to change its net metering policy has some good aspects: grandfathering all existing customer rooftop systems installed by Jan. 31, 2018, and removing any cap or size on total residential rooftop solar megawatt production.
Yet the not-so-good part is the proposed 66 percent cut (from 10.3 cents per kilowatt to 3.25 cents per kilowatt) to what a customer receives for sending extra energy back to the grid.