CAST OF CHARACTERS:
The Hens = Solar panels
The Eggs = Kilowatts of electricity
The Nems = Net Energy Metering, an arrangement whereby the utility company buys the extra electricity your solar system produces at retail, and sells it back to you at wholesale if and when you need it.
Big Bill the PiGeE farmer = Go on…take a wild guess at this one
Once upon the new millennium, there was a country farmer couple named Jen and Jem Nems. The Nems had two dozen hens that usually produced an egg a day, each. The Nems family enjoyed omelettes, soufflés, meringue pies, and all the baked goodies they could eat, because they had more eggs than they could use. They made gifts to the neighbors, shared with the poor, and donated to their kids’ school; and still, they had the happy problem of what to do with all the leftover eggs. The hens produced on a fairly predictable schedule and they were content.
Well, guess what? The Nems used to have a neighbor that was a PiGeE and hen farmer, but he moved to the city and became a very successful merchant. His name was Bill; everyone called him Big Bill. Big Bill noticed that people in the city didn’t have nearly enough eggs. So every single morning, he sent a truck out to the Nems’ place, and paid them full retail for any extra eggs they had. Some rumors from the city said that Big Bill was greedy, but he was a good neighbor to the Nems and Jen and Jem were very happy for the extra money. Sometimes, Big Bill needed eggs so badly that he bought all the eggs the Nems could spare and promised them that if they ran out, he would give some back for free in case they ran out. The Nems liked Big Bill, and Big Bill liked the Nems. He knew that without them, he wouldn’t be able to supply all the people in the city with enough eggs. He also noticed that no matter how high he raised his prices, it seemed that people would pay anything to get their eggs every day. When he gave a penny to the Nems for an egg, he could charge his customers a nickel or a dime or a quarter for the same egg! The people grumbled about Big Bill, but what could they do?
When the Nems came to visit the city from time to time, they were glad to explain to new friends how easy it was to keep hens and sell the extra eggs. People realized they could do it, and some began to try. Big Bill noticed he had a few less customers, but he didn’t mind; he still had more than he could keep up with.
A few more people starting keeping their own hens, and others began to complain loudly about Big Bill and his prices. Also, Big Bill was getting tired of going out to the Nems’ farm every day, and he was jealous of how much people liked the Nems. He started thinking about building up his own giant farm full of every kind of bird that lays eggs. It would be too big and very messy, and some of the eggs might make people sick, but Big Bill wanted to have all the people depend on him for their eggs. He wasn’t friendly to the Nems anymore and they wondered about Big Bill.
The Nems are glad that Big Bill has been buying eggs from them at a good price, but it seems like he may not continue. The Nems don’t need Big Bill’s help, but they feel sorry for the people that can only get eggs from Big Bill…
And that’s net metering rolled up into a bedtime story even a small child (or I) can comprehend. Any resemblance of characters portrayed in this play to person(s) or companies real or fictitious, living, dead, or going belly-up is probably deliberate. Oh, and one more character we haven’t introduced:
The Rooster = The Solar Company, the energy booster rooster that enables you to produce your own power.
Right now, net metering is still offered by the Public Utilities Commission, but there are rumors that Big Bill doesn’t necessarily care to see it continue. Why not have him as your customer instead of you being his? Why not live happily ever after?