“We’re not opposed to doing it,” he said. No consumer benefitCenterPoint’s plan to outfit all area homes with smart meters, which manyelectric retailers hope will spur market innovation, doesn’t promote solar panels or other alternative forms of generation, Berger contended, becausethe meters don’t register power generated from them.“They get to charge money when the meter spins forward, and you getnothing back when it spins backward,” he said. “That’s not net metering. It’snot a benefit to the consumer, which is ironic.”It’s ironic because solar generation ought to be exactly the kind of innovative technology encouraged by Texas’ deregulated system.Instead, some of the most successful solar programs have been in cities thatstill have municipal-owned electric monopolies because the entire system,including transmission and delivery, are part of the same operation.“In a municipal-owned environment, it’s easier to do than in a deregulatedenvironment,” said Paul Hobby, who chaired the task force.In the meantime, Standard Renewable has seen its installations in theHouston area lag other states. It’s handled 123 installations locally since2006, compared with more than 200 in Colorado, for example.Until the net metering issue is resolved, rebates alone probably won’t beenough to encourage people to use solar power.The federal tax credits are limited to about $2,000 a household, or about 10 percent of the cost of a typical installation. City- or state-sponsored rebateswould add to that, but the real benefit from consumers would be in gettingcredit for excess power that could be sold back to the grid.Intervention requiredOn Tuesday, the Texas Senate approved a measure that would establish arebate program and require retail electric companies to buy solar-generated power from consumers at fair market rates.