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HB 1207: Net Metering Promotes Fairness and Energy Self-Sufficiency

I've been working with a Dakota Rural Action committee to promote small-scale renewable energy. We've held a couple public education events and spread the word about DRA members putting up their own renewable energy systems.

But now we've got legislation to promote renewable energy. Rep. Paula Hawks (D-9/Hartford) put House Bill 1207 in the hopper yesterday. HB 1207 is our net metering proposal.

Net metering is a simple concept. Your electric meter on the back of your house spins one way to measure the electricity flowing from the utility grid into your house. If you put up a wind turbine and on some windy day generate more power than your house uses, your meter could spin backwards to measure the net surplus of electricity flowing back to the grid. Given "net metering," you'd pay for the electricity you used, but your electric company would pay you back for the surplus electricity you produced for your neighbors to use.

Net metering is a fairness issue. If you produce something valuable, you should get a fair price for it. Energy is the most valuable commodity we have. Net metering allows us to give a fair price to homeowners, farmers, and ranchers who install small renewable energy systems that produce surplus power. Yet South Dakota is one of only four states that don't require power companies to extend this fairness to their forward-thinking customers.

Net metering won't make solar panel-users rich, but it will help them reach the break-even point on small-scale energy systems sooner. That will encourage more people to invest in on-site energy systems. More renewable energy, generated by more individuals, is exactly the kind of clean and distributed power that will make individuals and communities around South Dakota more energy self-sufficient.

House Bill 1207 supports fairness and local self-sufficiency. It gets South Dakota on the same page as the rest of the nation in promoting renewable energy. I look forward to HB 1207 getting a hearing before committee so we can tell more people about the virtues of net metering.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2013.01.29

    Cheaper than goverment subsidies. But the power companies want a complete monopoly so they will lobby real hard against it. they have tried to hard to keep everyone out so if it costs them a little now is justice. They can always adjust the water going through the dam on windy days. This is normally a dry state so not lowering the dam to much actually gives the water in the dam more power. Win-win.

  2. Clayton Halverson 2013.01.29

    Last week Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against the turbine company Renewable SD for fraud and failure to deliver the parts for the towers that people had already paid for. See Saturdays Minneapolis Tribune for the story. One of the several customers that have forked over $200,000 to them and still have nothing was quoted as saying he might use it for a deer stand. This market is fraught with bogus claims with regards to pay back and production. South Dakotans beware.
    BTW I'm thinking about digging a well in my back yard and to help pay for it I would like to sell water to the city.. can't really say when or how much water, but certainly no water on hot days when I want it all myself and also on those hot dry days I want the cities water. I also can't state the quality or purity of the water, and would like to sell my water throught the pipe system that the other city residents pay for, and I don't expect to be charged for using this. Would someone introduce some legislation like this and really give a boost to home owners?

  3. Judy Judy 2013.01.29

    Paula Hawks huh! Isn't she the Democratic who decided to team up with a Republican candidate in District 9 and threw her fellow Democratic candidate under the bus. Not much loyalty there. Net metering is a good idea but I don't think it is going anywhere with her as a sponsor. And you had better watch out, she just might change sides on you.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.29

    Hey, Judy, would you like to (a) leave your full name and (b) focus on the policy rather than personality?

  5. Stan Gibilisco 2013.01.29

    Kudos to Paula Hawks! Let's do this thing. Wyoming does it, if I am not mistaken, although they only pay you about half what they charge you per kilowatt hour; nevertheless that fact has been, and remains, one of the main factors that could cause me to move to Wyoming.

  6. Les 2013.01.29

    Half is more than fair for you to use their transmission line to get your power to the consumer Stan. It shouldn't be any more than the utility pays for its power on the other end.

  7. Stan Gibilisco 2013.01.29

    Les, I never thought of it that way! Thanks for pointing that out. In any case, half is a heck of a lot better than nothing.

    If I generated enough excess, I could still make a profit!

    I'd have to debate with myself, in any case, whether to go with net metering (interactive) or a straight stand-alone system (which would work in the event of a power failure and would still provide electricity to offset the utility power company bills).

    I'm thinking hybrid wind and solar, anyway, probably in the Cody area.

    I don't think the Hawks bill will go anywhere. I could be wrong ...

  8. grudznick 2013.01.29

    Mr. Gibilisco, when you get your offgrid living thing built I would really like to tour your facility and gawk at your strategies. Big fan of your books here.

  9. Les 2013.01.29

    We'll chat over a pint at Lewies someday Stan. Im going to help a friend go off grid with his cabin.

  10. Roger Elgersma 2013.01.29

    One of the reservations built a wind turbine for their own use for a casino and the power company took all the power at one penny a kilowatt and sold it all back to them at seven cents. The power companies have been extreemely selfish and this has to stop. Their real goal is to have a complete monopoly on all the power.

  11. Justin 2013.01.29

    I'm still waiting for the outrage of how our locally granted monopoly (formerly sat on the board of by our PUC Commissioner) thought it was fine to say that it would take two days for "crews from Minneapolis" to come fix the electricity in Downtown Sioux Falls. It didn't stop them from advertising that "crews from Minneapolis" were there right away.

    Maybe if we grant a local utility a monopoly they should, you know, have qualified people to work on their monopolized grid?

  12. grudznick 2013.01.29

    Lewies is not off the grid yet. The trivia game is powered by hot air but the tvs are still sucking coal power and not even that hydro from Brohm's waterfall that killed all the fish.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.30

    The bill asks for the retail rate. It may seem high, but other states have made that retail rate for net metering work, without any significant rate increases resulting therefrom.

    Think of it as an investment in a more robust grid. More power coming from more sources makes the grid harder to knock out. More power from distributed sources also delays the need for the utilities to build new power plants that would raise your rates significantly.

    (And Justin, I'm amazed, too, that it took that long to get the power back on the heart of a city. Were those crews working non-stop?)

  14. Les 2013.01.30

    Retail doesn't only seem high Cory, it is not ralistic enough to last. It might get many to invest only to find out the legality of you forcing me to carry your product without return on my part will be litigated out of existence causing hardship on those very folks who invested counting on that large return.
    Why should my net meter power, carry the same value, when I might use it or not use it or the wind doesn't blow for no reliability in production. At one penny the price is more than fair. You going to turn up or down huge power plants to the needs vs production of private power?
    That being said, a small off grid system on every house with tax rebates and small such as a penny or two, would as Cory says, help stabilize our grid.

  15. Judy Judy 2013.01.30

    I don't think reminding you of Ms. Hawk's public betrayal of her fellow democratic candidate is focusing on someone's personality. It simply states a fact which may lead one to speculate about her commitment to the issue at hand, namely, net metering. If she can publicly oppose her fellow candidate in favor of the Republican candidate to further her own ambitions, what will she do if her support for net metering becomes politically inconvenient.

    As for revealing my full name, my identification here is consistent with the policy of your blog, unless you have a different policy for those writing about things you, apparently, consider inconvenient.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.31

    ["Judy Judy": (a) Don't tell me what my comment policy is; read it. (b) Check your e-mail.]

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