Net Metering Working Group

Objective and Description: Upgrade the Texas website www.Powertochoose.org to include features and filters to help consumers find Retail Electric Providers offering net metering type rate plans.

Available Reference Information:

Status: (provided in reverse chronological order below)

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11/13/14 - LH (updated 11/21/14)

The Texas Public Utility Commission has opened Project #43787 titled “PUC PROCEEDING TO RECEIVE COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS REGARDING THE POWER TO CHOOSE WEBSITE”

(To see information about the PUC project and comments filed to date, follow the link below. Please check out the comments filed by the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) which is the 5th item in the project folder. http://interchange.puc.state.tx.us/WebApp/Interchange/application/dbapps/filings/pgControl.asp?TXT_UTILITY_TYPE=A&TXT_CNTRL_NO=43787))

All rooftop solar PV consumers and other interested consumers are encouraged to provide suggestions to this project as suggested below.

Background:

The current http://PowerToChoose.org website offers a separate search for renewable energy buyback plans here - http://powertochoose.org/en-us/Content/Resource/Selling-Renewable-Power. (Note you must read down the page a bit to actually find the link to another page that then allows a search for a REP.) While this provides some useful information to the electricity consumer, it lacks the rate plan comparison feature that is provided for all the other options on the website.  It is important that the website be modified so that the sell back and net metering type rate plans are searchable with actual price/kWh posted like all the other rate plans.  Doing this would allow consumers to find and compare the "competitive" net metering type rate plans, and/or identify the absence of them. If competitive plans are absent, then consumers can further apply market competitive pressure to REPs and the Public Utility Commission as required.  

The following are three recommendations in ascending order of perceived complexity.

 

Suggestions:

  1. Provide a search/filter alongside the other existing search/filters (see http://powertochoose.org/en-us/Plan/Results) so that distributed renewable generation excess buyback type rate plans can be found and easily compared to other rate plans.  This should be a very simple addition as the existing Energy Facts Label content required for every plan as defined by §25.475 - Information Disclosures to Residential and Small Commercial Customers – already includes the question “Does REP purchase excess distributed renewable generation?”.
  2. As an additional enhancement to aid the comparison of excess distributed renewable generation buyback plans, it is suggested that the displayed content be enhanced to include at what rate the excess generation is purchased.  Some example responses could be:
  1. Technology is now available to allow Texas electricity consumers the option to locally generate some or most of their electricity with rooftop solar PV. It is recommended that the PUC add an additional feature set to the “Power to Choose” website tool that will help consumers learn about local distributed renewable electricity produced by solar PV systems and help them find reputable solar installation companies in their respective zip codes – just as they help them find Retail Electric Providers!  Now that would be the “REAL” Power to Choose!

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07/15/14 - LH

PSA met with Gabriel Cardenas (Gabriel.Cardenas@puc.texas.gov) to discuss updating the Power To Choose website to include a search filter for REPs that offer to buy excess distributed generation electricity.  He agreed that they would start a project in September 2014 to look at this suggestion.

In this meeting, it was also identified that the EFL (Energy Fact Label) required by REPs to produce for each of the plans they offer has its content and format defined by the PUC rule § 25.475 - Information Disclosures to Residential and Small Commercial Customers.  PSA has suggested that this rule be updated to include in the Energy Facts Label that when the REP answers "yes" to the above question, that they are required to provide at what rate.  Potential responses could be:

Having this excess purchase rate identified in the Energy Facts Label would then make it easier for consumers when evaluating plans and make the data be easily accessible and visible in the Power to Choose website.

According to David Smithson of the PUC staff, the key PUC contact for this rule is Liz Kayser (Liz.Kayser@puc.texas.gov)

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06/22/14 - LH

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ELECTRIC UTILITY BILL

While we might think that an example $100 electric utility bill is calculated very simply by a rate per kWh multiplied by the number of kWh used in a given month (e.g. $0.10/kWh x 1000 kWh = $100), it is generally much more involved.  And in our deregulated market in North Texas, the category of charges can vary widely between various Retail Electric Providers.  Some of the categories that may be included (but not in all plans) might be:

For examples of the TDU (Transmission and Distribution Utility) charges that might be seen, check out the table below from http://www.txu.com/en/residential/customer-care/tdu-delivery-charges.aspx

Residential TDU Charges 

So we must be careful when comparing advertised $/kWh rates because they might be only the “energy charge” per kWh and not include the “delivery charge” per kWh and the other fixed charges that may be applicable.

Then when you try to factor in the various buyback or sellback plans that are being offered for customers with grid-tied solar PV distributed generation systems, more variations pop up.  See Find Companies Who Will Purchase Your Excess Renewable Energy available at the Texas Public Utility Commission’s Power to Choose Website.

The simplest plan available seems to be the net metering type plan which basically credits you the “total” retail amount per kWh for exported electricity to the grid.  As of June 2014, only Green Mountain Energy seems to offer this plan.  TXU and Reliant offer buyback or sellback plans, but don’t credit retail rates for the exported electricity. They seem to offer various forms of fixed or variable amounts per kWh of electricity exported.

12/17/13 - LH (person’s initials), original ideas about this working group

Initial Ideas for project objectives:

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