Assessing the benefits and costs of distributed solar PV
Earlier this month, the decision of APS—Arizona’s largest electric utility—to propose two major changes to its net metering program, one which would do away with the program entirely, has become the latest lightning rod fueling the growing tension between utilities and solar PV. In California, there is significant debate about whether to raise net metering caps. In Texas, CPS Energy—the largest municipally owned utility in the country—has proposed a net metering alternative that some fear will substantially reduce the value of solar.
What is driving these conflicts? One major factor is that distributed energy resources, including distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV), have different physical, operational, and economic characteristics than conventional power plants. Such differences create potentially significant misalignments when they are added into a system designed for decades around the characteristics of conventional power plants.