Pro-Solar Cooperative is a member organization comprised of members of electric cooperatives and supporters of renewable energy.
Why did we form? Pro-Solar Cooperative was formed in direct response to a decision by St. Croix Electric Cooperative (SCEC) to adjust its net metering policy (also referred to as “NEM,” for net energy metering), which now discourages member-owned systems. The concern is that electric cooperatives throughout the state of Wisconsin will follow the example of SCEC, locking their members into member-owned electric cooperatives that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The members of electric cooperatives demand access to clean energy sources and the ability to exercise their independent right to be a small producer. Small member-owned systems have been shown to reduce the costs of electricity throughout the United States and members of rural cooperatives should have the right to demand of their electric cooperatives that the clean energy they produce is compensated for at a fair rate. The economic and social benefits of NEM at a rate equal to what the consumer is purchasing electricity for is necessary in order for the development of clean energy systems to be economically viable to individual members. Member-owned electric cooperatives have varying policies and through this effort, we hope to educate members on what those policies are.
Many states are seeing the value of distributed energy being produced by individual systems. For example, our neighbor to the West, Minnesota, passed legislation that, among other things, set a solar standard, directed Xcel Energy to develop a community solar garden program, and provided for the development of an alternative tariff mechanism to net metering that would also serve as the rate for community solar garden programs. Under this new scenario and instead of traditional net-metering arrangements, customers would potentially buy all of their electricity from their local distribution utility and then sell all of their PV generation under that utility’s Value of Solar (VOS) tariff which would be designed to capture the societal value of PV-generated electricity.
The legislation directed the Department of Commerce to work with stakeholders to develop a VOS methodology and to deliver its recommendations to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) on Friday, January 31, 2014. The Department’s filing includes its recommendation, with a more in-depth document addressing the methodology. The Department’s recommendations do not set a rate, but rather propose the methodology for calculating a utility-specific rate for distributed PV solar (1 MW and smaller).