With the passage of Resolution No.1755 on March 27th, 2018, Klickitat Public Utility District (PUD) became the latest utility in Washington to penalize net metered solar customers by discounting the clean energy they generate. This resolution, which unfairly targets both existing and future solar customers, was adopted despite overwhelming customer opposition to the resolution, as reported in the Goldendale Sentinel.
Klickitat PUD has a low level of solar adoption, with fewer than 120 net metering customers in the county. These customers pay the basic monthly infrastructure charge and have an immaterial impact on Klickitat PUD’s rates, equating to an increase or decrease of less than one tenth of one percent of retail revenue.
Klickitat PUD commissioned a report of EES Consulting in preparation for passing down the alternative compensation decision for solar customers. The report acknowledges that the alternative policy “does not address any non-energy benefits of distributed generation”, such as economic development, energy independence, or reduced pollution. Furthermore, Klickitat County’s own 10-year economic development strategic plan directs the county to “concentrate efforts on the clean technology industry as a catalyst opportunity with an emphasis on wind and solar” (Goal 2.3) SIW and other stakeholders submitted comments cautioning that the new policy will have a chilling effect on future solar deployment in Klickitat County, putting the PUD at a competitive disadvantage in the 21st century energy market.
Klickitat PUD’s passage of the resolution, with complete disregard to customer opposition, underscores the critical need for the Washington Legislature to pass updated net metering legislation in 2019 to protect the right of solar adopters to use the power they generate on their homes and businesses. Ninety percent of Washington’s population live in the twelve utility territories that have exceeded their legal requirement for cumulative net metering generation capacity, which is among the lowest standards in the nation. Doors could shut for new solar customers in those utility territories at any time. Several utilities that have met their legal requirement have unilaterally implemented alternative policies that undermine the intent of the state’s net metering law.
Legislation (SB 6081) introduced to update net metering during the 2018 session enjoyed strong public and bipartisan legislative support. Unfortunately, the House did not heed the urgent need to expand the state's net metering requirement, allowing the net metering bill and other important energy bills to die without a vote from the full chamber.