March 15, 2021
Legislators Need to Hear Your Voice to Keep Solar Workers Like Joe
By Luke Stacy
Joe Kluberton has worked as a mountain guide in Alaska and as an oil field analyst for BP in Texas. When he and his wife decided they wanted to move to Wyoming, he found that Creative Energies combined his professional experience and outdoor enthusiasm. “Challenging work, good pay, room to grow,” Joe says when speaking about what drew him into being a Solar Technician.
Now, the anti-net-metering bill SF0016 - New net metering systems (SF16) threatens job viability for Joe and many other Wyoming workers.
Wyoming and the West are reinventing their economies. Jobs and economic activity in conventional energy sources are fading and renewable energy offers Wyoming a lucky break. Solar businesses like Creative Energies hire former oil and gas workers. We hire University of Wyoming engineering students. And we create opportunities for people like Joe to bring their ingenuity and work ethic to our state. Don’t let Wyoming’s legislators and utility companies throw away this chance of a lifetime.
Let's Keep Solar in Our State Energy Mix on Our Terms
-We can build solar farms, occupying our agricultural and open space.
-We can put solar on our unoccupied roofs. Lawmakers in Wyoming may take the rooftop option off the table. Please participate in the public dialogue about whether distributed solar generation should be a part of Wyoming's energy economy and jobs future.
Though the Wyoming Senate narrowly passed SF16, the State House will soon have a chance to stop it. Your voice will carry weight in this decision.
Take Action Two Ways to Save Wyoming Solar from SF16
The SF16 bill may soon be introduced to the House Corporations Committee and their upcoming meeting will be the last opportunity for legislators to hear testimony directly from Wyomingites about the strong support for rooftop solar and energy independence. Your personal outreach has and will continue to make a difference.
Right now: Contact the Committee members (emails and talking points listed below).
Soon: Sign up to give public comment to the House Corporations Committee. We will send an action alert once the committee schedule has been determined. This may be soon!
Contact the House Corporations Committee
It is important that the Corporations Committee hears from you about why SF16 will have negative effects on Wyoming’s future for citizens, the environment, and communities.
When contacting committee members, please be respectful and include your full contact information. You can send one email to all committee members.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jim Blackburn: email@example.com
Rep. Aaron Clausen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Andi Clifford: email@example.com
Rep. Shelly Duncan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Danny Eyre: email@example.com
Rep. Hans Hunt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Joe MacGuire: email@example.com
Rep. Jim Roscoe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Talking Points from Our Conservation Partners (including the Wyoming Outdoor Council and Powder River Basin Resource Council)
A subsidy problem does not exist in Wyoming: There is no evidence that non-solar owners, elderly, or low-income customers pay higher rates to subsidize rooftop solar at Wyoming’s current integration level of 0.06%. Experts including the Department of Energy, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and National Conference of State Legislatures have shown a cost shift only takes place when the scale of impact reaches 5-10% level of integration — more than 80x the current level of rooftop solar systems attached to Wyoming’s grid.
Small-scale rooftop solar does not impact our coal, oil, and natural gas industries. Solar panels on homes are tiny installations (average size 5 kilowatts) to help people save money on electricity bills. Coal-fired plants are industrial-scale facilities (sizes range 500–2,500 megawatts) that sell most of their power out of state.
Net metering helps, not hurts, seniors and lower-income residents. Many low- and middle-income customers utilize net metering and this bill would make new solar systems unaffordable for these residents. Net metered solar helps reduce operating costs at Natrona County Meals on Wheels, Riverton Community Entry Services, Lander Food Bank, Laramie Downtown Medical Clinic, Eastern Shoshone Boys and Girls Club, and many other entities providing essential services. Net metering also saves taxpayers with systems on public buildings like the Laramie Recreation Center, Rock Springs Airport, Alta Vista Elementary School, and many others. This frees up dollars for jobs serving the public such as police officers or teachers’ aides.
Stand for the people — not the investor-owned utilities. Monopoly utility companies have been the only public supporters of the anti-net metering agenda. Meanwhile, hundreds of Wyoming citizens — teachers, students, ranchers, small businesses, and local government officials — have gone on record opposing changes to our net-metering statute. Legislators need to listen to their constituents.
Wyoming should not limit the growth of the fastest growing industry and job market in the United States. Wyoming ranks 43rd in the country for solar jobs per capita, yet has the eighth-best solar resource in the nation. We need to diversify our economy and support innovation in the private sector to close this gap. We also need policies that help grow jobs and keep Wyoming as a viable place to make a living in a 21st-century economy.
If it’s not broken, stop trying to fix it. People who have invested in these systems are frustrated at repeated attempts by their government to curtail private investment despite the lack of evidence that net metering is causing any harm to other utility customers.
Wyoming can grow the rooftop solar industry without harming other utility customers. Net metering is responsible for less than six one-hundredths percent (0.06%) of all retail electric sales in Wyoming. This is roughly the same capacity as 2–3 average-sized wind turbines currently being installed by utilities like Rocky Mountain Power. Net metered facilities are not having a noticeable impact on the rates of other power customers.
The largest solar owners are local governments, businesses, and nonprofits. These entities are relying on the cost savings from their investments in solar to weather through an era of budget cuts and economic downturn. Additionally, property valuation increases when solar is added to a home, ranch, or business. That increases long-term property tax income, which is adding dollars to the state’s budget during these revenue-strained times.