Rebutted on Net Metering. Well, Sort of…

Josh Kramer, executive vice president and manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, throws in his two cents on the net metering bill being considered by the North Dakota Legislature. What do YOU think?

Well then. What IS the answer?

Mr. Kramer, executive vice president and manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, throws in his two cents on the net metering bill being considered by the North Dakota Legislature. This is in response to my op-ed in The Forum. I added a little more information than the newspaper’s 500-word limit allows on IV Words.

So, what do YOU think?

Personal logo of Martin C. Fredricks IV

Standard graphic used by The Forum for printing letters to the editor online

Mandating buybacks isn’t the answer
by Josh Kramer

A recent column by Martin C. Fredricks IV published by The Forum expressed support for net metering legislation. I’m relatively sure that the writer was not in the committee room for the bill’s hearing. However, I was, so let me be clear. It was a bad bill, and the amendments made it even worse.

The writer lauded the bill and its prime sponsor, Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, suggesting that it would make expensive renewable energy generation equipment more economical for utility customers and provide a more equitable reimbursement for customer-generated electricity. Allow me to explain the crucial pieces of this legislation that were not mentioned in his column.

First, this bill would have mandated that electric companies buy back excess power produced by residential or commercial consumers who have some way of generating electricity for themselves. Utilities would have to purchase up to two megawatts, or potentially more with Public Service Commission approval, of excess consumer-generated electricity at a price set by the PSC. How much is a megawatt? Enough electricity to power roughly 750 homes.

Further, this buyback mandate would have been aggressive in scope. The bill not only included electricity produced on an individual’s home or property, but all of such production anywhere within an electric company’s service area. This proposal went far beyond rooftop solar panels.

Please don’t get the impression that electric cooperatives are not doing their part to work with consumer-members or to reduce carbon emissions. Electric cooperatives are self-governed local utilities. The cooperative business model works best when those who receive the service make decisions about it, and North Dakota’s electric cooperatives are very aligned and adaptive to their members’ preferences. Many electric cooperatives in our state have already adopted policies to allow for the buyback of excess power produced by member-owners through solar and wind, at a rate more closely reflective of wholesale rates.

Nearly 30 percent of all the electric power consumed by electric cooperative members is produced by wind, solar and hydroelectric generated electricity. Also, generation cooperatives are investing in and working diligently to deploy new technologies that significantly reduce and capture carbon emissions. Electric co-ops also offer programs which emphasize energy efficiency and conservation. These programs benefit all members, helping to reduce individual electric bills while encouraging members to take ownership of their energy footprint.

Supporters used this bill as a platform to talk about the environment. We, too, want to continue to engage in these conversations. Our member-owned electric cooperatives are leaders and innovators when it comes to renewable energy, conservation and innovation.

However, pursuing new ways to put excess power on the grid – whether it is needed or not – and forcing all utility consumers to pay for it is not the answer. Instead, we must work together to make advances to address a changing climate.

Graphic by Forum Communications Company

Thank You, Joe.

It’s always an unexpected pleasure to get compliments on IV Words. Here’s one from a great Joe.

“I appreciate your writing Martin. Always Have.”

My friend Joe Stadstad paid me this awesome compliment yesterday after checking out the IV Words blog. Frankly, I’m overwhelmed by his #GoodWords. Joe and I have known each other since our college days back in the late 1980s at North Dakota State University. Great guy, then and now.

Thank you, Joe.

“I appreciate your writing Martin.  Always have. You are a tremendous wordsmith, but you do not overpower the average reader.

Continue reading “Thank You, Joe.”

Extra! Extra!

Fifty dollars was nothing to sneeze at in 1976. And to a 7-year-old newspaper boy used to spending nickels and dimes on Nu-Grape sodas and Marathon candy bars, it was an almost unfathomable amount. It was so much, in fact, that I didn’t dare keep it when I found the $50 bill in a gravel driveway on the edge of tiny Medora, N.D.

PaperboyI was on my paper route, trudging through the dust after slipping a paper into a door, head down, thinking about who-knows-what, when a movement caught my eye. There it was, a half C Note, shuddering in the early morning breeze and sunshine.

Continue reading “Extra! Extra!”