CPUC Rejects Net Metering Rate Increases

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Originally published by the ECOreport

It has been two years since AB 327 brought the last conflict between California’s rooftop solar industry and the state utilities to an end. California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was left to decide whether the utilities could impose demand charges, grid access charges, installed capacity fees, standby fees, or fees. In their proposed ruling today, the CPUC rejects net metering rate increases.

CPF Installers Harvey House_-117

CPUC Rejected Net Metering Rate Increases

Neither Southern California Edison (SCE) or San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) demonstrated that their proposed fees were reasonable in light of the Commission’s prior determinations about the timing of potential fixed charges for residential customers.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was not able to show that customers “would understand its proposed demand charges.”[1. DECISION ADOPTING SUCCESSOR TO NET ENERGY METERING TARIFF, Public Utilities Commission, p 115]

If the proposed decision goes forward, the present rate structure will remain in effect until 2018 and a new tariff rate will be reviewed in 2019. [2. ibid, p 122]

Mixed Responses To the Proposed Decision

There were mixed responses to the proposed decision.

“Sierra Club is glad to see the proposed decision reject utility proposals to gut rooftop solar and maintain a net metering structure free from punitive fees. A strong rooftop solar policy is essential to California’s efforts to address climate change and create an increasingly resilient and distributed grid. The decision’s move toward time of use electricity rates is an important element of a clean energy future here in California, and is critical to unlocking the value of new clean energy tools like storage plus solar or other smart grid technologies. By charging more for electricity when demand is highest and less when demand is low, time of use rates create an economic incentive to reduce peak electricity use, invest in storage, and better align solar generation with grid needs,” said Evan Gillespie, the Director of the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign.

SunPower - California Valley Solar Ranch - San Luis Obispo County, CA - 250 MW panels -installation

Both the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and Sunrun said they need more time to digest the decision.

“This is a massive document and we have just begun to review it. Especially given the importance of this decision to the industry, its employees and customers, we need to assess the potential impacts of elements of the proposal, such as a move to mandatory time-of-use rates, which may create uncertainty as prospective customers assess how going solar will affect their electricity bills. We plan to submit comprehensive comments to the Commission in the coming weeks.”said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s Vice President of State Affairs.

“While we are still reviewing the proposed decision, it is the next step in a process that will see many important rulings in the future. We appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Commission and Staff in reviewing the many proposals and comments in this proceeding.​ ​We expect continued anti-solar lobbying from the utilities in advance of a final decision.”​​ said Bryan Miller, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Sunrun.

Ironically, SDG&E had already published a protest:

“We are disappointed that today’s proposed decision on the rooftop solar subsidy does not address the growing cost burden among our customers. Workable solutions must be developed to create a future where all customers can receive benefits.

Today’s decision fails to recognize what consumer advocates and the utilities have already confirmed: we need to continue to support the growth of solar energy AND new rooftop solar rules that don’t require non-solar customers to pay over $160 million additional per year – $100 per family on their electricity bill. People shouldn’t be penalized with higher electric bills just because they are unable to afford or accommodate solar on their rooftops. Californians deserve better….”

Photo Credits:CPF Installers Harvey House- courtesy SEIA; SunPower – California Valley Solar Ranch – San Luis Obispo County, CA – 250 MW panels – courtesy SEIA

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Roy L Hales

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 Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales