Energy Fairness Statement on Alabama Solar Standby Charge

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November 21, 2019

Washington, DC

The following statement may be attributed to Paul Griffin, Executive Director of Energy Fairness, regarding today’s hearing by the Alabama Public Service Commission on standby charges for residential solar customers.

“Across the nation, utility regulators have grappled with the best and most equitable way to make sure the full cost of maintaining our shared electric grid is covered by ratepayers. Our message has been consistent: all power customers should pay a commensurate share for using the grid.

The 2012 decision by the Alabama Public Service Commission to allow a special charge for rooftop solar owners was a step in the right direction to ensuring the grid is fully paid for. That’s because solar owners who still use the grid for backup should pay for the grid’s use, like all other customers. If they aren’t fully paying through their energy use, they should pay through some other mechanism such as a standby charge.

Without an additional charge for solar customers, Alabama will be subject to the same cost-shifting as we’ve seen in other states. In Louisiana, for example, we urged state regulators to act after pro-solar policies shifted $2 million in costs to non-solar customers. Other states such as California that failed to properly account for the cost of the grid saw non-solar customers forced to pay billions. This is neither sensible or equitable for all involved.

We believe that customers who choose not to install solar at their homes should not bear additional costs because other customers do. This is especially reinforced by data that shows costs are shifted most often from higher-income customers to those with lower incomes. 

With its charge for solar customers, the Alabama Public Service Commission has taken a necessary step to create equity and fairness for all customers.”

Energy Fairness, formerly known as the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fair and sensible energy policies. Formed in 2009, it continues to foster dialogue about policies that deliver affordable and reliable energy for customers.