Time for PSC to allow Mississippians to choose

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

After four years of consideration, the Public Service Commission might soon make a decision about whether or not to allow private homeowners the right to provide their surplus solar power to other ratepayers on a power grid.
We hope the PSC votes to allow this.
Technically, the rule change would allow homeowners to sell back extra energy generated through any means, although solar panels are the most commonly used devices for residential electric generation.
In all, Mississippi is one of only five states that does not allow homeowners with solar panels to tie into a utility grid, and our ratepayers are worse off for it.
There is no argument that electricity generated by solar panels is among the safest around, and an independent report commissioned in 2014 by the PSC found that adding private solar panels to the power grid can reduce the cost of energy, too.
Solar panels reduce cost by reducing risk, environmental costs and the cost of production and in total, the study found ratepayers could expect to save $100 per megawatt hour over the first five years. Then they can expect more decreases as solar panels replace oil and gas plants. To put this in simple terms, electric plants that run off oil and gas are expensive to operate not just because of the price of oil and gas, but because of the administrative and environmental costs. As more of those costs go away, the cheaper our energy can become.
And of course homeowners who install solar panels will get even cheaper power, as they may be able to make money by selling excess solar power to others on the grid.
The cost of solar panels is falling every year and, until the end of 2016, the federal government will offer a tax rebate of up to 30 percent of the cost of solar panels.
The future of energy production is going to depend on a mixed power grid. It is time for the PSC to stop dithering and allow Mississippians to chose a safer, cheaper way to keep the lights on.

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