For an American Electric Power customer, the credit would be reduced by about 30 percent.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued the 3-0 ruling in a case dealing with the rules for so-called “net metering,” a term that refers to the two-way flow of electricity for consumers who generate power through small-scale solar panels, wind turbines and the like.

Right now, an AEP customer producing excess electricity receives a credit that is the equivalent of 5.86 cents per kilowatt hour sent back into the grid. For example, if a customer produces an excess of 100 kilowatt hours in a month, the current credit is $5.86. The amount rolls over and is applied to the next monthly bill.

The PUCO ruling says that some parts of this credit no longer need to be applied. In the AEP example, this would reduce the amount of the credit by $1.81, or 31 percent percent, based on a review of AEP rates and confirmed by the company.

Environmental advocates were disappointed with the change in credits.

“This would be a step back,” said Trish Demeter, vice president for policy at the Ohio Environmental Council.

However, she is pleased with other parts of the 34-page ruling, which helps to create a common set of rules for all of the state’s investor-owned electricity utilities.

Columbus-based AEP said it had not yet reviewed the ruling in detail, but reacted positively.

″(It) appears that the commission made some significant improvements to the rule to appropriately balance the ability of net metering customers to receive a credit for the excess electricity they produce while also maintaining the integrity of the electric system and ensuring that all users of the grid support its operation,” said AEP spokeswoman Tammy Ridout, in an email.

The decision also seems to open a door for alternative electricity suppliers, such as Direct Energy and IGS Energy, to market their services to households with power to sell.

The ruling says those companies have wide latitude to offer different pricing plans for people with renewable energy systems and may offer more generous terms than the utility could.

The case began in 2012 as a review of whether such rules needed to be updated. The PUCO issued a ruling on the issue in 2014, but utility companies disagreed with it and appealed it to the Ohio Supreme Court. The PUCO said it would reconsider the previous decision, and the court challenge has been on hold.

Michael Preston, 60, of Logan, is eager to see how the decision affects his AEP rates. He has a solar array that covers nearly all of his roof and often generates more than enough electricity to cover his needs, leading to monthly credits.

He can understand why utility companies would want to reduce the credits.

“When we make our own power, we cut into their revenue,” he said.

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dangearino