THE Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA) is urging the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to review the payment scheme for homeowners with solar rooftops who export excess power to the grid.
The group submitted to the ERC on Friday its position paper describing the manner by which utility companies calculate the credit due to homeowners who export excess power generated by their solar rooftops to the grid.
The PSPA submitted its comments in line with the scheduled review of the net metering rules, stressing the need to make a correction in the payment system by noting that the present mechanism is contrary to the spirit of the Renewable Energy Law and its Implementing Rules.
According to PSPA president Tetchi Capellan, the law clearly says the “net-metering customer is only charged for his net electricity consumption and is credited for any overall contribution to the electricity grid.”
Net metering is a non-fiscal incentive given to solar rooftop owners provided in the RE Law by way of granting credits earned from electricity produced net of consumption.
Capellan pointed out that based on this rule, electric power generated by an end-user may be used to offset electric energy provided by the utility company to the end-user during the applicable period. Thus, the net-metering customer “is only charged or credited, as the case may be, the difference between its import energy and export energy.”
In short, the law and its IRR, as well as the ERC net-metering rules, are all talking about an exchange of energy, one offsetting the other, and that the user should only be charged the difference between import and export, which is the net of the energy exchange.
But, according to the PSPA, this is not how net-metering customers are paid. Instead, a lower kilowatt price for exported energy, the generation charge, is applied to calculate the credits due to the solar rooftop homeowners.
PSPA explained that when exported energy is allowed to offset an equal amount of imported energy, the amounts cancel each other out, removing price considerations in exchange.
“It is like borrowing a kilo of rice from one’s neighbor in the evening, and returning a kilo of rice the next morning,” said Capellan. Price does not come into the picture; and if it does, the borrowed and the returned rice will both have a common reference price.
PSPA urged the ERC to take into account this matter of calculating the credits as the present system “is contrary to law.”
The Alliance emphasized that the net-metering customers are entitled to the true value of solar. Nowhere in the law is it specified that the preliminary reference price, the generation charge, applies only to imported energy, the PSPA said.
Solar rooftop owners invested their savings to produce clean energy, stressed Capellan. Unlike big solar utility owners, they receive no tax holidays, no duty-free importation. What rooftop solar owners simply ask is they receive the true value of solar and apply the true solar price to both exported and imported energy, to be consistent with the law, its IRR and the ERC Rules.
On September 1, the stakeholders will discuss the net metering issues at a Solar Summit to be held at the SMEX.