Alaska Public Radio Network's AK opened their program this morning, Chasing the Sun, with a segment about my friend and former colleague on the Friends of Mat-Su board of directors, Mimi Peabody. She and her husband, Will, live off the power grid in their home up Clark-Wolverine Road, northeast of Palmer. The interview-tour ended with mention of House Bill #288, which has been pre-filed for the impending Alaska legislative session by Homer Representative Paul Seaton.
Seaton may be my favorite GOP Alaska legislator. He has introduced many innovative bills over the years, mostly having to do with fishery issues, habitat protection and public access to redress of grievances against the state, and against powerful corporations. In his past efforts, Seaton has teamed up with such unlikely allies for a Republican as the Republican Moderate Party, Friends of Mat-Su, the Alaska Center for the Environment, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.
His House Bill seeks to allow people like the Peabodys to be able to force power companies to buy power from people on-line who, from time to time, produce more power than they can store or use. 36 other states have such legislation. The idea has been around for a long time. It is called net metering, and here's how it works:
Net metering programs adopted in many states offer the potential for individuals or businesses to realize financial benefits from installing renewable energy systems. Net metering allows consumers to offset the cost of electricity they buy from a utility by selling renewable electric power generated at their homes or businesses back to the utility. In essence, a customer's electric meter can run both forward and backward in the same metering period, and the customer is charged only for the net amount of power used. By definition, true net metering calls for the utility to purchase power at the retail rate and use one meter. States have adopted a number of variations on this theme.