On January 26, 2015, Director Amit Ronen was quoted in an Environment & Energy Daily news story on proposals to significantly modify Hawaii’s net energy metering program for all new customers. Reflecting common arguments heard across the country, Hawaii’s largest electricity supplier claims that changes are needed to the current net-metering regime to recoup costs for electricity grid maintenance that solar energy consumers are no longer covering. On the other hand, solar advocates feel that this new policy is aimed to stifle solar in Hawaii, which has some of the highest residential solar penetration rates in the country.
Director Ronen commented on what impact these proposed changes to net metering and related laws and regulations in Hawaii and other states might have on future solar growth rates:
"You're seeing it all over: Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado," as well as in Arizona and California, said Amit Ronen, director of the George Washington University Solar Institute. "Often it's maybe to tweak the existing net energy metering laws. Sometimes it's to replace the whole regime altogether."
Director Ronen also discussed cost shifts, mentioning that solar customers are generating the most electricity during peak energy times when utility companies are paying the highest rates to buy power. He said that the forthcoming Minnesota utilities commission study on the costs and benefits of producing locally generated renewable power might be a helpful guide for determining proper pricing for solar customers.
In addition, Director Ronen commented on the likelihood of California attaining its renewable energy portfolio goal to have 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030. "I think it's realistic, 50 percent," Ronen said. "They reached 33 percent a lot sooner than people thought."
Director Ronen projected that while there’s reason to believe that net-metering policies will change in the next 10 years, on-site energy storage will become more popular. He commented that, "grid defection is going to be an increasingly used option” and gradually, more people will decide to completely disconnect from the electricity grid in what is commonly called the utility "death spiral."