JEA proposal could decrease solar energy momentum, businessowner says

by: Deanna Bettineschi Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Some people who work in the solar power industry say a new proposal by JEA could make people less likely to want to get solar power.

Pete Wilking is president of A1A Solar Contracting Incorporated and has worked in the solar industry for 6 years.

He said the rooftop solar industry has grown 40 percent per year, and solar panel prices in Florida have been cut in half.

Wilking said the the panels help keep the air clean and limit the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

But he said he’s worried part of a new JEA proposal would hurt the momentum of the solar industry.

He said if someone has solar panels and they don’t use all the electric they generate, the electric is sold back to JEA for about 11 cents a Killowatt-hour.

“They're trying to devalue the rate for back fed electricity from power systems on homes and business from about 11 cents to about 7 cents,” Wilking said.

He said people getting less money back could make them change their mind about solar.

Action News Jax asked JEA's chief financial officer, who said they would do this to keep up with market rates, but said it would only apply to those who don’t have solar already.

“The proposed change would not apply to existing customers so any customer who has solar panels would continue to receive the same rate they receive today for solar sold to JEA,” said JEA CFO Melissa Dykes.

“It would have a devastating effect on the roof top solar industry because in order for people to choose solar there has to be some economic value to that,” said Wilking.

Wilking is worried that if this proposal is approved by the JEA board, he will lose customers and thinks it would hurt the solar business in general.

Dykes said the rate could change year to year.

“The proposed policy lets us look at the rate each year so as we see market prices change for solar they're established through a competitive process we'd be able to re look at what we pay for solar from all providers each,” said Dykes.