Rooftop solar notches win in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi utility regulators have approved a new incentive program for renewable energy despite objections from Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and large utility companies.

Some lower-income customers who pay most of the cost of installing a system such as rooftop solar panels could receive a $3,000 rebate from their power company.

Incentives are also available to 85 of the state’s 142 public school districts.

The Public Service Commission voted Tuesday in favor of the new rule, which will take effect Jan. 1. Democrat Brandon Presley, of the northern district, and Republican Brent Bailey, of the central district, voted in favor of the program. Republican Dane Maxwell, of the southern district, opposed it, WLBT-TV reported.

The governor said the program would translate into more expensive energy for ratepayers.

“It’s a bad deal,” Reeves wrote Monday on social media. “The PSC should slow down. If not, the legislature must reverse it.”

GO DEEPER: California’s rooftop solar industry is in the midst of its biggest fight yet, with broad implications for the rest of the country. The proposed overhaul of the state’s net energy metering policy is underway. Vote Solar executive director Sachu Constantine joined the Factor This! podcast to break down the latest in the fight to save rooftop solar. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Maxwell said he supports solar projects, but he believes people who don’t participate in the program should not have to fund the incentives.

“Our country is so unstable right now and with the cost of everything else, I’m not going to add another cost on our ratepayers,” Maxwell said.

Bailey said Mississippi is heavily dependent on natural gas and needs to diversify its energy sources.

Several groups weighed in during the 20-month debate about the program.

Entergy and Mississippi Power questioned whether the commission had the authority to create the incentives. They argued that the program would add costs for customers who aren’t participating.

Stephen Wright, director of Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, said the incentives “will position Mississippi to effectively compete for solar manufacturers, builders, and financiers in a highly competitive market.”

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Author: Associated Press Editors

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