Clean Power

Published on March 31st, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


California Grandfathers Existing Solar Arrays In, Rates Won’t Change For 20 Years

March 31st, 2014 by  

Originally published on the ECOreport.

Photo Courtesy Sullivan Solar Power

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has ruled that existing rooftop solar arrays can keep selling electricity to the grid at current rates for 20 years.

This applies to all customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company.

The CPUC’s decision was unanimous and in line with what Governor Jerry Brown intended when he signed Assembly Bill 327 into law.

At that time, Governor Brown wrote, “As the CPUC considers rules regarding grandfathering of net meter customers, I expect the Commission to ensure that customers who took service under net metering prior to reaching the statutory net metering cap on or before July 1, 2017, are protected under those rules for the expected life of their systems.”

The rules for California’s next Net Metering Policy (NEM 2.0) have not yet been decided upon, but must be finalized by December 2015.

“There will be an unprecedented surge of demand for solar power after today’s hearing, so it’s impossible to predict when the cap will be hit,” said Daniel Sullivan, president and founder of Sullivan Solar Power, “It is clearly in the best interest for property owners to go solar now, locking in 20 years of protections.”

“At Baker Electric Solar we’re pleased with the CPUC recent ruling that ensures that existing solar customers are guaranteed the current net energy metering (NEM 1.0) benefits,” said Keith Randhahn, Operations Manager at Baker Electric Solar. “Establishing a grandfathering deadline will also motivate homeowners who haven’t yet considered going solar to step up and investigate the advantages of becoming a renewable energy producer sooner than later.

“We fully support CALSEIA’s efforts to work with the CPUC as NEM 2.0 is developed and hope it will provide similar guarantees to the next generation of solar adopters. The new definition of net metering should be based on the entire value chain associated with solar power adoption. Solar benefits extend beyond the cost savings for the consumer and the benefit to the utility of distributed grid power. Value can be given to the less tangible environmental benefits as well as the economic benefits of job creation.”

“This is good news for existing customers and those signing through 2016,” said Martin Learn of Home Energy Systems. “Commissioner Peavey did not bow to other commissioners who wanted to reduce the grandfathering period. The vote was ultimately 4/0, because newly appointed commissioner Picker was in Germany and was able to remain off the record on this.  Future votes on even more important points may or may not go the way of the solar industry. Stay tuned, and express your opinion by letters, faxes, emails, and petitions, even in person in San Francisco or Sacramento. Utilities believe they are going to win the war even if we win a battle or two. They have plenty of experience influencing lawmakers and regulators.”

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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • Matt

    It’s not so simple. They are also changing when peak rate hours occur. Right now peak rates are mid afternoon and off peak rates are evening and night. Once AB327 kicks in fully, the peak hours will move from afternoon to the evening. In other words, right now solar homes get paid peak rates by the utility during the day and pay off-peak rates to the utility at night. Soon that will flip and we will get paid off-peak rates during the day, and pay peak rates at night. I estimate that will cost average solar home about $500-$1,000 extra per year, which of course goes right to the utility companies.

    Those homes that installed just enough solar to get rid of their Tier IV rates, will feel the effect of this the most. These homes will probably want to get off of time of use billing and go back to regular billing.

    Those that have enough solar capacity to cover 90+ % of their use won’t feel the pain as much and might still be ok on TOU billing.

  • Kevin Wong

    I’m strongly considering going solar and this article seems to answer my question regarding grandfathering net metering 1.0. I’ve read articles from all sides about who benefits and who loses with the current net metering and solar arrays in general. I wouldn’t mind paying a small fee to use the grid (utility’s infrastructure) when I exceed my production or to transmit my excess to customer (my neighbor is an energy hog), but I’m concerned that the fees will increase rapidly as more people produce some form of their own energy. I’d rather be grandfathered at today’s rules and elect to support the utilities as I see fit. I would hate to invest thousands of dollars into a solar system only to be told I’m going to owe more money to the utility companies in the future. Uncertainty clouds decision making, especially when it’s a financial decision.

  • spec9

    I’m locked in. 🙂

  • Adam Gerza

    The title of the article is misleading, “rates” certainly can and will change. Grandfathering protects the NEM v1.0 rules, namely full retail credit on exports.

  • Will E

    Solar produces only profits.
    do not understand the fuzz. vote next time for the politics favoring Solar.
    Solar is politics.

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