Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) has approved policies to encourage adding storage batteries to homeowners who use solar energy to power their homes. JEA currently produces 50 megawatts of solar power. That number will jump to 250 megawatts by 2019. The new policies will reduce the $0.10 per kilowatt hour of energy that homeowners are paying now to $0.03 per kilowatt hour.
A recent Jacksonville Business Journal article, JEA Shakes Up Solar Policies, discusses how JEA’s new policies are helping to securing Florida’s future.
JEA unanimously approved Tuesday policies to increase the authority’s reliance on solar energy, to cut an incentive for homeowners to install solar panels and to create an incentive for homeowners to add storage batteries to their solar arrays.
JEA will add up to 250 megawatts of solar power to its energy portfolio. It is budgeting up to $50 million to buy land for solar farms, which could be operational by late 2019. This addition of solar power, which dwarfs the 50 megawatts currently produced by JEA, would make Jacksonville the largest solar community in the United States per capita, based on projections of other cities’ portfolios.
JEA staff members lauded solar power in their presentation to the board of directors. They noted that solar power had reached price parity with fossil fuel generation and that JEA customers are increasingly adding solar panels to their homes. The cost to install solar systems has fallen 70 percent since 2010, leading to a 68 percent annual growth rate for the industry nationwide, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Yet, JEA is rolling back net metering benefits that homeowners rely upon to justify the high upfront cost of solar system installation. Under the current net metering policy, which began in 2009, homeowners with solar systems receive $0.10 per kilowatt hour of energy that they produce above their consumption. Starting Apr. 1, this will roll back to just over $0.03 per kilowatt hour. However, those currently receiving the $0.10 payout will be grandfathered in for the next 20 years.