Consumer confidence in generating and using renewables continued to increase this year, according to electric utility reports filed with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). Customer-owned renewable energy grew approximately 27 percent in 2013, to 6,697 systems, up from 5,302 in 2012. Statewide, electric generation capacity from these systems reached 63,055 kilowatts (kW), an approximate 49 percent increase since last year.
Florida’s PSC assisted this growth by establishing rules in 2007 that promote development of customer-owned renewable generation. By making it easier for customers to interconnect their system with the utility’s grid, the PSC’s net metering rules encourage customer use of clean renewable generation that also lowers their utility bills. Since the first year of reporting, the number of renewable systems has increased more than elevenfold.
When customers generate more energy than they use in a billing cycle, putting more electricity back into the grid than they took, the net metering rules require electric utilities to credit the customer’s next bill at the full retail price.
“That helps customers offset the high cost of having their own renewable energy systems,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “Full retail credit under net metering was adopted by the PSC as a way to ‘prime the pump,’ and it has accelerated the momentum of renewables.”
Solar photovoltaic panels continue to be the most popular renewable choice; however, wind turbines and anaerobic digester usage is increasing. Anaerobic digestion is a multi-step process that uses microorganisms to break down organic material to form methane and carbon dioxide gases, which are used to generate electricity.
Florida’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs)–Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Company, Gulf Power Company, and Florida Public Utilities Company–are required by the rules to offer an expedited interconnection agreement process so that homeowners and businesses interested in generating their own energy can do so quickly.
Customers who receive their electricity from a municipal electric utility or a rural electric cooperative also have renewable generation incentives. Every Florida municipal and cooperative that sells electricity at retail is required, by statute, to provide a standardized interconnection agreement and net metering program for customer-owned renewable generation systems.
Florida’s utilities reported the following information on customer-owned renewable generation for 2008-2013.
# of Customer-Owned Renewable Systems
kW Gross Power Rating
Rural Electric Cooperative
Individual utility reports on customer-owned renewable systems and summary data is available on the PSC’s website: ElectricNaturalGas/CustomerRenewableShowYear.
Residents interested in learning more about interconnecting renewable generation systems or net metering should contact their local utility for procedures and eligibility requirements.
Solar Pilot Programs
To help encourage the development of solar energy in Florida, the PSC approved IOU solar energy pilot programs that provide customer rebates to offset some installation costs for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water heating systems. The programs also provide solar energy equipment to low-income customers and to schools. Approved through 2014, the pilot programs include an annual expenditure cap to limit the rate impact to all customers.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.