Lafayette restores smart solar policy

Residential Solar PV in Lafayette, Louisiana (Simon Mahan)

Residential Solar PV in Lafayette, Louisiana (Simon Mahan)

Late on November 7th, a local Lafayette, Louisiana newspaper (The Independent) posted a story, ”About-face: LUS seeks repeal of ‘solar tax’ ordinance.” Lafayette is restoring its smart solar policy!

On November 1st, I published a blog about how my local municipal electric company, Lafayette Utilities System (LUS), created a new rate structure for current net metered customers, including solar power families like mine. Back in 2012, my family installed a new solar power system on our home. Federal tax credits coupled with Louisiana’s solar power tax credits meant we spent $5,000 out of pocket on the brand new system. The new rate structure would have put about 250 solar families in Lafayette in a tough spot and would have negatively affected solar power growth in the city.

Solar power is wildly popular. According to recent polling from the Pew Research Center, some 91 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters, and 84 percent of Donald Trump supporters favor expanding solar power. (Not to be outdone, wind power received similar levels of public support.)

Distributed solar power policy can be fairly complicated. But according to the Brookings Institute, “So what does the accumulating national literature on costs and benefits of net metering say? Increasingly it concludes— whether conducted by PUCs, national labs, or academics — that the economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers. Far from a net cost, net metering is in most cases a net benefit—for the utility and for non-solar rate-payers.”

Fortunately for Lafayette residents, we can now rest assured that solar power has a place in our community.

Special thanks go out to Collin Bercier of Louisiana Solar Solutions, Woody Martin of the Sierra Club Delta Chapter, Jeff Cantin of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, Councilwoman Liz Webb Hebert, Councilman Bruce Conque and LUS Director Terry Huval.

8-) And a big “hat tip” to reddit user everettmarm who used this story to provoke a fascinating national dialogue.

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