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RCA Commissioners Vote 4 to 1 to Adopt Alaska Net Metering Policy

In an unexpected and historic turn of events, the Commissioners of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) on Oct. 14 voted 4 to 1 to adopt a statewide Net Metering tariff regulation at a public meeting in Anchorage. The regulation will next receive a legal review by the Alaska Department of Law, and then be sent to the Lieutenant Governor for signature. The regulation is expected to become active within 90 to 120 days and will effectively permit net metered connections on the Railbelt utilities and a handful of others across the state that exceed 5 million kilowatt hours of annual sales.

At this public meeting, the RCA Commissioners were presented by RCA staff members James Keen and Rich Gazaway with a compromise strawman proposal that limits individual customer system size to 25 kilowatts, allows credit for excess power at the retail rate with monthly billing, and limits the total capacity of net metered systems to 1.5 percent of the utilities average retail demand. Commissioners Pickett, Giard, Lisankie and Wilson voted in favor of the proposal, and Commissioner Price dissented with concerns that cost shifting from Net Metered customers may be passed on to other customers. A strong case was made by Net Metering advocates during earlier public hearings and comments on the docket that utilities in more than 42 other states have adopted net metering with negligible effects to their bottom line economics.

The public meeting began with supportive statements by Net Metering advocates including Pat Lavin from the National Wildlife Federation, Mark Masteller of the U.S. Green Building Council and engineering consultant Andy Baker of YourCleanEnergy. There was also telephone testimony from advocates in Kodiak and Juneau, and the meeting was monitored telephonically by the staff of Representative Paul Seaton in Homer who has been a long time and consistent supporter of similar state legislation. Since the first docket on Net Metering was opened by the RCA nearly two years ago, the interest and support from advocates has grown organically to a lobby that proved effective in removing objections made by the Railbelt and other utilities during the public workshops and reviews. In the end, the utilities and advocates agreed to the compromise strawman proposal crafted by RCA staff that was adopted today.

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