WASHINGTON — The Latino Coalition, one of the largest membership and advocacy organizations for Latino-owned small businesses, joined a broad group of organizations representing an array of minority communities to send a letter to the United States Senate expressing opposition to an amendment to the Senate Energy Bill filed by Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Harry Reid (D-NV) that would effectively prevent state regulatory bodies from changing existing net metering policies.
The letter was signed by groups including: The Latino Coalition, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), Hispanics In Energy (HIE) and the Energy Equity Alliance to name a few. In the document, concern that the amendment would unfairly harm low-income and minority communities is expressed and it encourages Congress to examine the impacts that net metering has on those living on the lower end of the economic scale.
The letter points out: “Under most net metering policies, utilities are required to buy [power produced by rooftop solar panels] at the full retail rate, allowing net-metered customers to effectively avoid paying for many of the fixed costs of the grid that most of them use to ensure that they have electricity around the clock. This means that customers without distributed generation systems must unfairly absorb these costs through higher utility bills.”
Many state governments are currently reviewing the need for and impact of net metering policies on their constituents, and some – most recently, Nevada – have taken proactive steps to reform net metering in order to establish a fairer cost structure, which will in turn lead to increased access to renewable energy sources and a sustainable growth plan for rooftop solar.
The letter makes the following additional key points in response to the amendment:
– The King-Reid amendment proposes a one-size-fits-all approach of federal standards that do not take into account the specific needs of communities and strip state governments of their ability to institute policies that best suit their communities.
– While the original intent of net metering policies was to spur solar adoption when the technology was in its infancy, this amendment would extend these policies for the long-term, thereby ensuring that the cost shift issue will continue to be a problem.
– The significant decrease in the costs of solar panels has not been reflected in the unchanged incentives that solar customers receive, weakening the argument for the passage of the amendment, and in fact demonstrating that these incentives should be lowered.
The letter urges the Senate, during its consideration of the Energy Bill, to advocate for historically underrepresented consumers by opposing the King-Reid amendment.
ABOUT THE LATINO COALITION
The Latino Coalition (TLC) was founded in 1995 by a group of Hispanic business owners from across the country to research and develop policies solutions relevant to Latinos. TLC is a non-profit nationwide organization with offices in California, Washington, DC and Guadalajara, Mexico. Established to address and engage on key issues that that directly affect the well-being of Hispanics in the United States, TLC’s agenda is to create and promote initiatives and partnerships that will foster economic equivalency and enhance and empower overall business, economic and social development for Latinos.