Connecticut is on the brink of implementing one of the most regressive solar energy policies in the nation. Voters did not go to the polls in November to turn back the clock on clean energy. But if lawmakers don’t fix a flawed law from 2018, new policies that take effect this year will devastate Connecticut’s solar industry and continue our state’s painful exodus of good jobs.

Stephen Pelton

How did we get here? Last year the legislature approved sweeping energy legislation that was largely positive. However, as a result of intense lobbying, Senate Bill 9 quietly eliminated net metering, a critical policy that has driven solar energy in Connecticut.

Net metering compensates homeowners for the power they export to the electric grid and is offered in 38 states, where it enjoys bipartisan support. But despite the efforts of clean energy advocates and a successful House amendment, net metering was ultimately sacrificed to satisfy extreme ideological interests and secure the bill’s passage in a divided Senate.

Eliminating net metering was a dream come true for solar energy opponents — and will be a nightmare for lawmakers’ constituents who want to go solar. The new law will replace net metering with two complicated, unworkable policies at the end of summer. At that time, Connecticut will be the only state in the nation to replace net metering with a policy called “buy-all, sell-all,” which prohibits homeowners from using their own solar energy. Maine is the only state to pursue such a policy, which it calls “gross metering.” It has been incredibly controversial, with former Gov. Paul LePage championing it and the Maine legislature twice voting to eliminate it. After a massive public backlash and millions of dollars in unanticipated implementation costs, Maine’s regulator got rid of the policy for large customers and the legislature is expected to reinstate net metering for all customers soon. Connecticut is currently on track to repeat Maine’s mistakes.

The other option provided under Connecticut’s new law will allow homeowners to consume some of their own solar power, but only on a daily basis, or less. If homeowners produce more power than they can use in a given day (or hour, or minute), they must sell it to the utility, likely at a rate less than solar homeowners currently receive. This stands to undervalue solar energy and shutter solar businesses. In addition, Eversource does not even have the necessary electric meters to implement the law’s options — a point Eversource did not share with lawmakers during session.

Utilities often claim that homeowners who install solar do not pay their fair share for the electric grid, and impose higher costs on others. This “cost-shift” argument is a tactic from the utility playbook and is commonly used by clean energy opponents. But it lacks any basis in fact. No comprehensive study has been done in Connecticut proving the existence of a cost-shift. The amount of solar is too low to cause one, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And, any cost must be compared to solar energy’s benefits, which the Brookings Institution found to be greater. Net metering produces benefits for all ratepayers, has helped create more than 2,000 good-paying jobs in Connecticut and supports low-income access to solar energy.

Rushing to eliminate net metering in Connecticut has produced bad policy and an even worse process. States such as California and New York have taken several years to study net metering and carefully evaluate forward-looking successor policies. Connecticut lawmakers may have intended to provide the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) several years to complete its proceeding, but that timeline has been truncated. Now PURA has been asked to complete its proceeding in only three months, an unprecedented time frame. This rushed process is guaranteed to produce unintended consequences that could cause irreparable harm. In addition to the new policies being substantively out-of-step, there is simply not enough time to carefully develop and implement them.

To avert this crisis, the legislature must act this session to maintain net metering. It could also initiate a responsible, thoughtful process to evaluate net metering and determine whether a new policy is warranted.

This is not a test. Thousands of Connecticut solar workers are counting on their elected representatives to save their jobs.

Stephen Pelton is CEO of EcoSmart Home Services, Connecticut’s premier energy audit, insulation and solar contractor.

CTViewpoints welcomes rebuttal or opposing views to this and all its commentaries. Read our guidelines and submit your commentary here.

Join the Conversation


  1. This is an excellent article that does a great job of showing how CT went from being a leader (#6 in the nation) to becoming a laggard as rated by the prestigious Solar Energy Industries Association as somewhere about #17 in the nation currently.

    While not speaking in any way for the CT Academy of Science and Engineering, I was a study advisor to them on how a Shared Clean Energy Facility (SCEFs) ought to be designed and operated. One key finding was that we needed to conduct a detailed Value of Solar (VoS) study to determine what Mr. Pelton refers to in his article..namely that owners of solar systems provide more benefits and cost reduction for all ratepays and not just to the owners of such systems. Instead, DEEP uses an antiquated avoided cost study which dictates far lower compensation which may ruin the solar business in CT. Let’s hope Governor Lamont screws the heads on at DEEP to be forward looking and not, as they are, seeing the future in their rear view mirror.

    1. Of course, there’s cost reduction for net meter people to others that don’t. The utilities don’t have to pay any fuel cost to produce electricity when the solar that goes onto the grid, and yet utilities charged full price for that electricity going to your neighbors! And there’s no power line loss because the power is not traveling hundreds of miles over power lines, solar power is locally made… going straight to your next door neighbor! No power loss! That’s a huge cost power saving!

      1. The monopoly needs to update its mindset that it needn’t profit off every consumer. Net-metering is less important when there is retail competition for electricity sales. But the monopoly wants to eat the cake and have it too.

  2. Great commentary! Take the time to review electric rates in the State of Connecticut as compared to the rest of the nation, since deregulation and the creation of PURA. Our state government agencies are in Eversouce’s back pocket. Eversource says jump, and PURA asks how high. Public Ultility Management in this state isn’t just a joke, it’s a crime!!!

    1. CT is widely viewed as the nation’s most mismanaged State. Why expect excellence in electric rate management and supply. Compare with NY and Mass.

  3. Savvy environmentalists know that “wind power” is the future, not solar. Look at Europe and huge wind farms sprouting up all over the US

    1. In additon, large wind is still a centralized source using vulneable transmission while solar has the capacity to be decentralized and operating as part of decentralized mirogrids. Between more probably nasty weather and cyberattacks I think we need to use decentralized power for health, safety and security reasons.

  4. Looks like we’re going to go Gorilla Solar on them!!! Do not report that you’re putting solar panels up and buy batteries and don’t ever put any of power onto the grid!!!
    You could even buy a grid-tied limiter (with battery option) inverter that does not put any power onto the grid, very simple to use, plug-in play and you could use batteries with it…
    Forced to use two meters on a house is bad customer service! They actually charge you twice, one service charge to read each meter!

    1. What you want is a “grid assist” array, which is a lower cost “one way” battery inverter that can be charged from the grid, but does not outflow onto it and lacks a physical interconnection (grid is isolated, this is not “zero export” but true “impossible to outflow”). The utilities are not prepared for that kind of interconnection, and forcing punitive solar policy onto the consumers will only train up expertise to make the transition to Offgrid and associated revenue loss worse for the grid operator and harder on non-participant. In other words, the buy-all, sell-all will have dire unintended consequences for the regulated utility.

  5. Great article. You know what word we haven’t heard in the last 5-10 years? Brownout… When’s the last time we’re heard that Eversource can’t meet demands? Why haven’t we heard this of late? Because of all the generation by Solar. To not have net metering is a sad day for the state. Perhaps there does need to be a discussion about the infrastructure, but it isn’t had by simply eliminating net metering. Since no one has really shown what the cost is to maintain the grid on a typical residential street, no one can really know whether eliminating net metering is fair to anyone, but one thing is for sure. It’s a step in reverse for promoting the reduction of oil guzzling electric generators. .

  6. The TVA has been doing buy-all sell-all for years, and only had about two dozen “behind the meter” installs TOTAL at the start of 2018. That’s an area larger than Tennessee. It had suppressed the consumer-owned solar market and there are better deals on deregulated grids which lack net-metering mandates. Net-metering it’s a natural entitlement for granting a monopoly as the consumers are the competitors. Suppressing consumer owned solar while having a monopoly on electricity sales is sinful.

Leave a comment