Electric cooperatives take very seriously their role as providers of safe, affordable and reliable energy to rural consumers. That is why electric cooperatives have developed net metering programs to meet the needs of rural consumers in each cooperative service area. The result has been that over the last two decades, electric cooperatives and their consumer-members have developed over 700 small-scale, consumer-owned renewable energy projects. These projects have helped offset electric costs for the consumer-member while also increasing the amount of carbon-free electricity generated in Pennsylvania.
However, in some circumstances, net metering may negatively impact both the consumer-member and the cooperative by shifting the cost of maintaining the system to non-net metered consumer-members, rather than distributing that cost evenly among all.
As the General Assembly looks to make changes to renewable energy policy here in Pennsylvania, it is important that policymakers evaluate Pennsylvania’s net metering program to make sure it is meeting the goals of renewable energy development while not unduly burdening utility and cooperative consumers with shifted costs.
Pennsylvania electric cooperatives have long been committed to safe, reliable, and affordable energy supply and delivery. To accomplish those goals, electric cooperatives believe that a diverse mix of generation resources is necessary for Pennsylvania. As policymakers debate new regulations, such as joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), electric cooperatives believe regulators must consider the impact these new regulations will have on rural communities.
Pennsylvania’s electric cooperatives have been investing in carbon-free electricity generation for decades through their ownership in the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station nuclear plant. That investment has been made by rural communities in Pennsylvania that continue to rely on family-sustaining jobs from diverse industries, including coal mining and electric generation stations powered by fossil fuels.
The Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association and its member cooperatives strongly urge the General Assembly to use funds obtained through the RGGI program to help offset its impact on rural communities and recognize rural electric cooperatives’ continuing investment in carbon-free electric generation.