AG Fox Asks Federal Agency to Reaffirm Authority of States to Regulate Net Metering

AG Fox Asks Federal Agency to Reaffirm Authority of States to Regulate Net Metering

Attorney General Tim Fox joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general, the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission in calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject a petition seeking to end state net metering programs.

The states’ protest, filed with FERC Monday, argues that a petition by the so-called “New England Ratepayers Association” (NERA) is unlawful and would improperly overturn nearly 20 years of precedent recognizing state authority to implement net metering programs, including the authority to set rates, terms, and conditions.

“Net metering allows customers who generate their own clean electricity, such as through the use of rooftop solar panels, to lower their retail electricity bill by offsetting the amount of electricity they use with the amount they produce,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “If FERC approves this petition, it could deprive states of a vital clean energy program, financially harm millions of customers, and place thousands of jobs at risk,” Fox added.

NERA is a corporate trade association that keeps its members and donors a secret, with a history of opposing state environmental regulation and renewable energy projects. In the protest filing, the states argue that the petition, which asks FERC to assert federal jurisdiction over 45 state net metering programs, would harm ratepayers, disrupt millions of dollars of investment in local power generation, and undermine state clean energy initiatives necessary for achieving emissions goals, many of which are legally mandated.

For nearly 40 years, state laws have allowed net metering or the assessing of retail service charges that reflect a customer’s net energy usage during a billing period. In their filing, the states argue that NERA’s petition doesn’t provide any credible argument or facts that would justify FERC overturning state jurisdiction of net metering programs. The states further point out that NERA’s petition is procedurally improper because it asks FERC to decide an issue for which there is no live controversy or uncertainty.

The states also note the critical role that net metering plays in helping states achieve their climate goals by encouraging investment in clean energy generation by all customers including homeowners, small and large businesses, municipalities, and industrial customers. According to the states’ protest, the solar industry has created more than 240,000 jobs nationwide, largely due to net metering programs.

State net metering has broad support behind it. Last month, 14 U.S. Senators sent a letter to FERC affirming their strong support of state net metering programs and urging the Commission to reject NERA’s petition.

Monday’s protest to FERC was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

In addition to the protest, Healey also led a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin in sending a letter to FERC, urging the commission to deny NERA’s petition and to reaffirm the authority of states to regulate net metering.