Net Energy Metering, Zero Net Energy, and the Distributed Energy Resource Future
On behalf of PG&E, Rocky Mountain Institute organized and facilitated a roundtable of experts to evaluate the potential implications for the utility and its customers of a future business environment characterized by high levels of customer energy efficiency, growing numbers of zero-net-energy buildings, and increased adoption of distributed generation (largely solar PV) by utility customers. The political and policy environment surrounding distributed resources is highly charged, with strongly held beliefs and assumptions about distributed generation benefits and impediments to customer adoption. At the same time, there are myriad complexities in analyzing the costs and benefits to the utility system of installing these technologies. Costs and benefits will shift over time as markets evolve, penetration rates increase, and new technologies are deployed. The roundtable worked to build a shared understanding of the problems and challenges facing stakeholders in the electric system and to identify the essential characteristics of workable long-term solutions.