As solar power expands its reach into greater residential use, can solar companies and utilities find common ground?
The flashpoint is over net-metering—a process where consumers use renewable energy to generate their own electricity, then cut their bills by sending excess power back to the grid at retail rates.
The system, which saves consumers money on utility bills, is gaining popularity yet remains the subject of fierce debate. At least 43 states have laws making it easy for residents to save via the sun; still, utilities are pushing back against solar's rapid encroachment on the retail market.
The U.S. is consuming more electricity than ever, costing consumers a pretty penny and encouraging them to turn to solar energy, which can save them money. The Energy Information Administration notes that retail electricity is up nearly 3 percent per kilowatt hour in 2014 versus a year ago, with costs rising for 20 consecutive months. This, despite the United States being in the midst of a massive domestic energy boom.