The Alliance for Solar Choice Established to Support Net Metering and Distributed Solar Power

May 09, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

The nation's leading rooftop solar companies today announced the formation of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC). TASC believes anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power. Founding members represent the majority of the U.S. rooftop solar market and include SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun and Verengo.

TASC is committed to protecting the choice for distributed solar. Most immediately, TASC will focus on ensuring the continuation of net energy metering (NEM). Currently in place in 43 states, NEM provides solar consumers with fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. In simple terms, NEM is like rollover minutes on your cell phone bill. Monopoly utilities are trying to eliminate NEM to halt the consumer-driven popularity of rooftop solar, which is helping create thousands of local jobs around the country.

"Americans are choosing solar in record numbers to save money on electric bills," said TASC member and Sunrun co-Founder Edward Fenster. "While this benefits the American consumer and the economy, monopoly utilities want to stop this progress to protect their own interests."

"Without consumer choice and empowerment, the utilities will continue to increase their rates and profits," said TASC member and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "If Americans are denied the right to choose how they produce and consume electricity, monopoly utilities will continue to choose their profits over the interests of consumers."

Studies in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, and Vermont have all found that solar provides a net benefit to ratepayers and to state economies. For example, a study published this year by Crossborder Energy shows solar customers with net metering will deliver a financial benefit of more than $92 million annually to all California ratepayers, not just those with solar. Over the next 30 years, California schools and public agencies are projected to save more than $2.5 billion on energy bills through net-metered solar systems.

By contrast, the utility trade association Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently issued a report that describes the increasing popularity of consumer-driven rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and demand response as a "vicious cycle." The report shows that utilities view rooftop solar as a threat to their monopoly business model, which guarantees utilities high profits from large infrastructure projects funded by ratepayers. Distributed solar reduces expensive and inefficient investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and decreases the need for expensive conventional power.

Rapid cost reductions and business innovations like third-party ownership have made distributed solar even more attractive and affordable today. Two-thirds of home solar installations are now occurring in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report issued by the California Public Utilities Commission.

TASC Executive Director Anne Smart will manage the organization's policy and public outreach efforts to combat growing threats to consumer energy choice in states across the nation. Prior to TASC, Smart was the Director of Energy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy business trade organization. She will oversee TASC's expansion through the addition of member companies.