PG&E proposes smart energy reform to support rooftop solar in California

As utilities across the country get hip to the benefits of solar power, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is an original early adopter and has interconnected more rooftop solar power than any utility in America. To further these goals, PG&E is proposing smart energy reform in support of sustainable growth of solar power as a vital resource for California.

Pacific Gas & EnergyThe plan, submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), proposes new rules that would allow new solar customers to be able to achieve significant reductions to typical electric bills while beginning the process of creating a more sustainable approach that is necessary to support long-term growth of solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, home automation and other advanced technologies.

As part of its decades-long commitment to solar, in legislation now pending in Sacramento, PG&E also is advocating that the state count rooftop solar toward ambitious new renewable energy targets as another way to help ensure the continued growth of rooftop solar.

“Solar is an essential part of our clean energy future. We need smart energy reform to sustain its long-term growth in California,” said PG&E Chairman and CEO Tony Earley.

Net Energy Metering 2.0 Proposal

Updating standards for the first time since 1996, the CPUC asked the solar industry, utilities and others to put forth proposals on how to support growth in rooftop solar power over the long-term, recognizing the need to rebalance incentives for solar in response to changes in the market while providing a sustainable framework that supports long-term grid investments.

“Solar is too important to our energy future not to get right. Working together, we can craft the right rate reform that will help solar grow and help build the smart energy future our customers want and deserve,” Earley said.

Under existing rules, rooftop solar receives substantial incentives in support of its deployment. While responding to changes in the market, PG&E is proposing that the CPUC still maintain very significant incentives for solar and assess rates again in three years or less.

PG&E’s proposal includes a small usage-based demand charge and new compensation for the amount solar customers are credited when they deliver power back to the grid. It will better reflect the value of that power to other customers who will use it. Solar customers would still realize savings of more than 50 percent on their monthly bill. The net impact of the changes proposed by PG&E would be about $20 monthly for a typical prospective solar customer planning to install a 3.7 kilowatt solar system.

Bills for existing solar customers and customers who do not generate solar power would not be affected. To help solar customers gain greater control over their ongoing energy costs, bills would be reconciled monthly, replacing annual true-ups.

To make solar more accessible for certain income-qualified customers on the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program in disadvantaged communities, PG&E proposes its Solar CARE pilot involving a 100 percent renewable usage option sourced from local solar projects. There would be no charge for this service and no change to the customers’ existing regular discounted energy rate.

More news and announcements from PG&E 

— Solar Builder magazine

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