As new solar power customers, we read with concern the Nov. 4 article about proposed changes to the net metering system for solar power in Wyoming. The issue is the perceived inequality between solar user rates compared to those using conventional power and the recapture of utility company’s infrastructure costs.
We address a few of Rep. Eyre points, and suggest he may be overstating the case:
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1. Every customer pays a base rate. That rate covers the utility's infrastructure costs and does not differ from customer to customer, whether they are solar energy producers or hydrocarbon energy users.
2: Utilities buy energy from residential solar generation at a rate much less per kilowatt-hour than the rate that customers pay for energy from the grid. That differential also addresses the cost of paying for infrastructure.
3: We and our neighbors bore the cost of running power lines to our properties, thereby making a significant investment in infrastructure. Many rural customers have done this.
In Wyoming, all customers pay about .01 cents per kilowatt-hour to cover the cost of net metering. We agree that solar customers should pay that cost in full. This change would have very little financial impact, whereas completely disabling the net metering system would negate the value in investing in solar energy that current solar customers have made. If our payback time goes from around seven years, as our carefully considered design predicts, to something over 20 years, that investment equation is irretrievably broken and we believe that outcome would pertain to nearly every Wyoming solar customer.
Hydrocarbon produced energy will remain important to the state. Wyoming’s other world-class energy resources are our famous winds and welcome, persistent sunshine. Currently, solar is a tiny part of the energy-producing profile in Wyoming, but with focus and development instead of regressive and punitive legislation, it can take its place as part of a healthy and diverse Wyoming energy portfolio.
RICK and CYNTHIA PALLISTER, Buffalo