Net metering undoubtedly benefits consumers, but it is a crude fashion of valuing rooftop solar and does not take into consideration, nor pay for, many of the benefits provided by the grid.
Austin Energy (AE) launched its Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) in the fall of 2012. AE’s VOST calculates its electricity tariff for solar rooftop homeowners based on a formula derived by AE. AE’s VOST formula weights a variety of criteria, which take into consideration the benefits, and costs, of rooftop solar penetration to the grid and electricity customers on the whole.
In some instances, rooftop solar owners are receiving more than the retail rate provided by net metering, which signifies that rooftop solar provides more value to the grid than utilities had previously realized.
AE’s VOST scheme addresses some complaints from utilities, but is the framework transferable? Minnesota is set to release its own version of a Value of Solar Tariff by the end of the year. (According to the not-yet-finalized Minnesota VOST utilities can choose to either use the net metering prices, or those derived by the State’s VOST calculation.)
DISCUSSION: Is the VOST framework the regulatory structure for Utilities 2.0? And, will Minnesotan utilities embrace rooftop solar’s value and pay more than what is dictated by net metering rules already in place ?