Can my local utility legally refuse to buy my surplus off-grid generated power?
September 27, 2012 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Can my local utility legally refuse to buy my surplus off-grid generated power?

We live off grid and often generate much more power than we are able to store. Since we occasionally end up using a propane generator, for those consecutive cloudy days w/ little wind, we thought it would be smart ot get grid tied and use the grid to "store" our surplus energy. Our local co-op utility refused to allow us to net meter. Do we have a legal recourse?
posted by haikuku to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are you?
posted by bilabial at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2012

Do you have a written contract with the utility that SPECIFIES they will store or buy your surplus? If not, you're probably out of luck.
posted by easily confused at 12:02 PM on September 27, 2012

We are in Western North Carolina, and no, we do not have a contract. They, ( French Broad Electric), say they are already net metering 50 homes and will not accept more.
posted by haikuku at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2012

Here's some info on NC net metering. It looks like those rules apply to "investor-owned" utilities and French Broad looks like a co-op, but you could probably contact the NC Utilities people listed at the bottom of the page and ask.
posted by ghharr at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2012

One of the affordable care act key/hinge issues was if congress could mandate that people buy something. Here, you're claiming the utility company should have to buy your generated power ?

Start with your state office (commerce commission does utilities in my state, YMMV) and see what's there.

That said, in researching putting solar panels in my house, I found that depending on state and power company, they may set it up such that your electric meter will stop running, but will never run backwards (ie you're producing excess power back to the grid and "selling" it to the power company via reducing your bill and potentially consuming a net-negative KWHs, causing power company to pay you).
posted by k5.user at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2012

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) requires the state’s three investor-owned utilities -- Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Dominion North Carolina Power -- to make net metering available to customers that own and operate systems that generate electricity using solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, ocean or wave energy, biomass resources, combined heat and power (CHP) which uses waste heat derived from eligible renewable resources, or hydrogen derived from eligible renewable resources.* The individual system capacity limit is one megawatt (MW). There is no aggregate capacity limit on net-metered systems.


That said, you indicated that you are with a co-op. So as perverse as the logic might normally be, you might have to jump ship.
posted by parliboy at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2012

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