There is a state’s-right issue brewing that could have a national impact on all U.S. citizens when they’re distracted and vulnerable because of the current health crisis. Individuals, businesses and municipalities that have invested in net-metered renewables to lower the cost of electricity are in jeopardy of seeing their investments tank and increased electricity bills.
The New England Ratepayers Association recently submitted a fast-tracked motion, costing over $30,000, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC regulates energy, including electricity, for the entire U.S. NERA is a group that keeps its members and donors a secret. They want to lower the rate of return on “net-metered” energy in all states — making it a federal policy. This would increase the energy bill of all the individuals, businesses and municipalities that have invested in solar, wind or hydro energy that sells power back to the grid.
NERA wants FERC to allow the feds to set only wholesale pricing on net-metered energy sold back to the grid. Regionally, this would mean recent local solar investments by Keene Housing and Keene’s public works would lose out, seeing the net-metered sellback go down by over 50 percent. The economics of these installations were based on New Hampshire state rules on net-metered solar installations. Nevada and Arizona tried plans like NERA’s and reversed course. It wasn’t good for their residents, businesses or their states.
NERA is requesting the federal government execute a power grab! That sounds dangerous on its face, but even moreso since decades of history at FERC shows states are the ones to set these rates. Who would want to take away states’ rights and put it into federal control?
But, there’s even more. To have standing to make a petition at FERC, NERA needs to reveal its membership. It hasn’t done this. As an official 501c4, a “social welfare group” as defined by the IRS, it can hide its members or donors. For standing in a FERC petition, they must share their membership. Those are the rules, and as citizens, we need to demand they do so.
You can e-file a letter to FERC, learn how at — www.ferc.gov/about/infographic-efile.pdf — or a video at https://tinyurl.com/ybqw5bkn. But you only have until June 15th. Don’t let a shadow organization take away all states’ rights, our state’s rights.
Mary Ewell is the program coordinator for the Monadnock Sustainability Hub and resident of Spofford, NH.