Ameren Illinois Net Metering Changes Ahead?  Latest Update November 2020.

Attention all Ameren Illinois customers: if you’re a residential or small commercial solar system owner, have an installation pending, or considering solar, you may have heard of some potential changes to Ameren’s Net Metering policy.  Are these new rules in play now?  What’s the latest scoop?  This blog post will provide you the latest update as of 11/18/20.

The current debate surrounds Ameren Illinois offering either FULL net metering or a new PARTIAL net metering plan.  The good news is the FULL net metering policy is still intact but could change or revert.  Full net metering provides the greatest economic benefit and is the most consumer-friendly.   Key things to consider:

First, if you have already installed a solar system and it was energized on or before October 1, 2020, you are “grandfathered” into the prior rules and will experience no changes to your net metering.

Second, by regulation, Ameren has the right to change their net metering policy when certain conditions are met. Specifically, when customer owned renewable generating capacity (solar and wind) attached to their lines reaches 5% of their peak capacity.

Has Ameren Reached the 5% Renewable Energy Threshold?

While it is within Ameren Illinois right to change their policy on Net Metering with 5% capacity, the  question of whether they already have is being argued and adjudicated.

  • Ameren says “Yes” according to their understanding of the method to calculate the threshold.  The company has implemented new net metering rules effecting new systems energized beginning October 2, 2020.
  • However, the solar industry and Illinois consumer groups disagree with Ameren’s calculations.
  • Key points:
    • The Conventional Calculation method as understood by the industry, would result in Ameren not reaching the 5% threshold until perhaps 2023.

So, what’s next For Net Metering in Illinois?

  • Ameren-IL is standing by their new rules until they are told to change their calculations.
  • Owners of new solar arrays energized beginning Oct. 2, 2020 are subject to the new rules unless or until Ameren is told to change.
  • Until a change in the net metering rules is ordered, Ameren is recording data to “catch up” any new solar owners impacted by the change, should they be ordered to revert to full net metering.
  • On November 11, 2020 at a Special Open Meeting of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Attorney General’s office was granted a request for oral arguments in the case. The AG supports the Conventional Calculation method. Oral arguments are set for November 20, 2020.

What is Ameren’s New Net Metering Rules?

If or when Ameren Illinois moves to “full” net metering to “partial” net metering, the impact on your electric bill savings with solar could be minor or more pronounced depending on size of your solar array, your daytime energy use, and ultimately how much electricity is delivered to the Ameren grid.  This is subject for another blog post we’ll produce soon.

For now, it’s easiest to understand if you look at the billing details section of your Ameren statement. Notice the breakout of the 3 sections:

  1. Supply charges: cost for the energy portion (or kilowatt-hours) paid to Ameren or a 3rd party supplier.
  2. Distribution charges: cost for delivering electricity (aka the “wire” charges)
  3. Taxes & Fees: (your favorite charges, right!?)

Under Ameren’s new rules, when solar owners produce excess electricity kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits are generated.  Power is NOT sold back – only energy credits are generated.  Those credits:

  • WILL be used to offset kWh purchased in the Supply section of their bill.
  • WILL NOT be used to offset kWH purchased in the Distribution section of their bill.
  • WILL NOT be used to offset kWh charges in the Taxes and Fees section of their bill.

You’re An Ameren Customer Who Has Not Yet Installed Solar. What Should You Do Now?

As the fight over net metering rules plays out, time is of the essence for individuals considering a switch to solar power.

  • In the scenario that Ameren wins, you will have the new “partial” net metering rules which still provide great benefit to you. We will work with you to size your system to your greatest advantage.
  • On the other hand, if Ameren is told to revert to “full” net metering, you have this last opportunity to install your solar system while they still have to offer “true” net metering. This locks you in to existing net metering benefits, so you are not impacted when Ameren eventually hits 5% and changes the rules again.

Our Thoughts On Ameren Illinois Net Metering

At Tick Tock Energy, we remain optimistic that Ameren is well below the 5% threshold that triggers the new partial net metering rules. If that is the case, then Ameren will continue to offer full net metering benefits until the 5% threshold is reached.

If this is the case, now is a great chance to act on residential or commercial solar power solutions provided by Tick Tock Energy.

Read more about Net Metering here.

Read more about residential solar incentives here.