It seems that the California Public Utilities Commission wants to tax homeowners for making use of the sun’s existence. I wrote about this last month, noting that the state’s $8 per kilowatt solar tax would punish homeowners for using clean energy, but I’m just a girl living far away in Louisiana whose voice probably doesn’t matter to the State of California. However, Tesla and Elon Musk both have a much more powerful voice and both are using it to support California homeowners who use solar power.
Bizarre anti-environment move by govt of California https://t.co/1OwdBNWbxT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 12, 2022
CleanTechnica CEO Zach Shahan also wrote a piece titled “The Attack On Rooftop Solar Power In California Is Beyond Stupid” on December 15 that Elon Musk liked (on Twitter).
To be fair, I live in Louisiana, where our local government isn’t shy about its love for the fossil fuel industry, and Florida is also attacking rooftop solar, with the policy attacks stealthily led by large utilities. Nonetheless, I’ve always seen California as very strong on climate solutions. (In fact, it is far ahead of others in solar power of all kinds installed.) The move by the state government, as Elon said, is bizarre and anti-environment.
John of Tesla Owners Club of Silicon Valley shared a post from Tesla’s Engage Platform. That post is focused on helping Tesla owners, supporters, and clean energy advocates have their voices heard in regards to the state’s counterproductive move. You don’t have to be a member or an owner of Tesla solar, vehicles, or even stocks to have your voice heard. And you don’t have to be a resident of California either.
The Basic Background: This month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will decide whether or not it will adopt this anti–rooftop solar proposal. The proposal, which would make owning solar much more expensive, will impact customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E who have installed rooftop solar power or are planning to do so in the future.
The Tesla Engage post pointed out that the state commission is bowing to the pressure of utility companies by proposing these new net metering rules (NEM 3.0), which include a grid access fee of $8 per kilowatt of installed solar per month. This isn’t the only fee, but to show you some perspective on the impact of such a fee, let’s look at this tweet by “Whole Mars” that I shared in the other article I’d written.
some people have 20 kw systems
$160 a month, nearly $2000 a year. pic.twitter.com/MytBm3uDi9
— Whole Mars (@WholeMarsBlog) December 13, 2021
The proposal, if it goes into effect, would cost those with 20-kilowatt solar power systems at least an additional $2,000 a year in taxes. Tesla noted that this would be the highest solar fee anywhere in the country if it’s adopted — and this is higher than in states such as my own which are not too friendly towards renewable energy at all. Further, it comes after years of the state promoting rooftop solar power as an important climate solution. The proposal would also reduce the value of the bill credits for solar-generated electricity sent to the grid by around 80%. That’s a huge value reduction.
That’s not all. There’s more to this madness. The state’s utilities and CPUC want to change the rules for customers who have already signed contracts and purchased a solar system. Tesla noted in the post that this violates the basic principles of fairness, and I agree. This is madness.
The new proposal would dictate that customers who installed solar under the NEM 1.0 and 2.0 rules would see their grandfathering period reduced to 15 years from the date after they installed their system. After this period, they would be on NEM 3.0. It should be noted that the NEM 1.0 and 2.0 rules were guaranteed to be in place for 20 years when customers enrolled. By changing this up, the state would be going back on its promise and showing total lack of integrity.
How You Can Have Your Voice Heard
As I’ve mentioned, you don’t need to own a Tesla, own solar panels, or even live in California to share your thoughts about this really low move by the state. The Tesla Engage post shared a detailed how-to on how you can support distributed solar and storage in California.
There are several ways. You can sign up here to provide a verbal comment directly to the five commissioners at the upcoming CPUC meetings on January 13 and 27. You can email the CPUC (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the governor’s office (https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail). Tesla has provided tools where you can do this, but also the addresses for those not wanting to use Tesla’s tools.
You can also call the governor’s office and ask him to stop this madness. An example of such a tweet is my own below.
I may not live in California, but this $8/kw tax is dirty and it punishes homeowners for using renewable energy.
— Johnna Crider (@JohnnaCrider1) January 12, 2022
Tesla’s Position On Net Metering And The CPUP Proposal
Tesla also shared its position on net metering and the CPUC proposal. It reads:
“Consistent with our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Tesla supports net metering structures that allow customers to supply their own power using on-site renewable energy without penalty. We further support NEM reform that increases the climate and grid benefits of customer-sited clean generation through rate structures that encourage the dispatch of solar-paired batteries during times of the day when the electric grid is strained and fossil power plants are most polluting. For example, Tesla supported the NEM reform recently adopted by the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District that encourages customers to store their daytime solar energy in batteries for use in the evening hours to help the grid during times of high energy demand to offset high grid greenhouse gas emissions. “
“However, we oppose the CPUC Proposal for several reasons.”
“First, imposing fixed charges only on those customers who choose to install solar impinges on customers’ right to self-generate their own clean energy. It violates every tenant of regulatory fairness and is likely illegal under federal law. The fixed charges cannot be avoided by adding a battery and would need to be paid regardless of whether the solar customer exports energy to the electric grid. Every solar customer should be asking why they are discriminated against, but not those customers who have rarely used vacation homes, invest in energy efficiency, have small homes, or otherwise have pay lower utility bills. Why would the PUC not add fixed charges to all customers fairly and with documented justification, rather than only solar customers?”
“Second, the dramatic change from the current NEM policy will reduce customer adoption of clean energy in California at a time when more is needed to meet the state’s climate goals and to provide more energy resiliency in the face of unprecedented wildfires and grid outages.”
“Finally, reducing the length of the grandfathering period short-changes customers who made an investment in solar under rules that promised consistent policy over the life of their system. Changing the rules in the middle of the game will make it less likely for customers to trust that other CPUC Decisions won’t later be reversed.”
You can read the full Tesla Engage post and take action here.
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