Florida PSC reports huge growth in distributed solar

 Florida homeowners and businesses using renewables to generate electricity grew by 75 percent last year, according to electric utility reports filed with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).

To promote customer-owned renewable generation, in 2007 the PSC established rules making it easier to interconnect a customer’s system with the utility’s grid.  The net-metering rules are making a difference.  Last year, 2,833 customer-owned renewable energy systems with a capacity of approximately 20,403 kilowatts were interconnected statewide.  This is a significant jump from 2009, when only 1,625 customer-owned renewable systems with 13,236 kilowatts of electric capacity were interconnected.

“When developing this rule, our goal was to encourage customer development of renewable generation to assist grid reliability, and also protect the environment and stimulate the economy,” said Chairman Art Graham.  “I’m pleased to see that we’ve accomplished our goal, with the number of customers using the rule increasing each year.”

Solar photovoltaic panels are the most popular renewable choice with 2,809 customer-owned systems; however, 23 customers have wind turbines and one has an anaerobic digester.  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.

Since customers with a renewable system sometimes generate more energy than they use in a billing cycle, PSC rules require any excess energy delivered to the utility be credited on the customers’ next bill.  Investor-owned utilities (IOU) subject to the rule—Florida Power & Light Company, Progress Energy Florida, Inc., Tampa Electric Company, and Gulf Power Company—are also required to offer an expedited interconnection agreement process for homeowners and businesses that want to connect a renewable system to their grid.

Customers who receive their electricity from a municipal electric utility or a rural electric cooperative also have incentives to generate their own renewable electricity.  Every Florida municipal and cooperative utility 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.

Source: Florida PSC news release


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