The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released a revised proposed decision today on solar net energy metering. Though the proposal avoids the steep solar taxes and fees the previous proposed decision laid out, this revised proposal would scale back export rates in a big way.
The solar industry and clean energy supporters are still reviewing the CPUC’s proposed decision, but based on an initial analysis it would cut the average export rate in California from $0.30 per kilowatt to $0.08 per kilowatt and make those cuts effective in April 2023, resulting in a 75 percent reduction in value of exports.
The original unpopular NEM 3.0 proposed decision stood out for dramatic solar fees that added up to more than the cost of the system itself. That was shelved earlier this year after intense backlash and public disapproval from California’s governor.
Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) issued the following statement on the CPUC’s proposed decision:
“The CPUC’s new proposed decision would really hurt. It needs more work or it will replace the solar tax with a steep solar decline. An immediate 75 percent reduction of net energy metering credits does not support a growing solar market in California. If passed as is, the CPUC’s proposal would protect utility monopolies and boost their profits, while making solar less affordable and delaying the goal of 100 percent clean energy.
California needs more solar power and more solar-charged batteries, not less.
We urge Governor Newsom and the CPUC to make further adjustments to help more middle- and working-class consumers as well as schools and farms access affordable, reliable, clean energy.”
The CPUC is considering changes to “net energy metering,” the state policy that makes rooftop solar more affordable for consumers of all types by crediting them for the excess energy they produce and share with their neighbors.
Currently 1.5 million consumers use net metering, including thousands of public schools, churches and affordable housing developments, and it is the main driver of California’s world-renowned rooftop solar market. As a result of net metering, working and middle class neighborhoods are just under half of the rooftop solar market and the fastest growing segment today.
In total, distributed solar energy systems have added 13 gigawatts of solar energy to the state, roughly the size of six Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants. In addition, consumers have added nearly 1 gigawatt of energy storage which played a meaningful role in keeping the lights on during recent heat waves.
Big utilities want to change the rules in their favor in order to eliminate a growing competitor, keep consumers stuck in utility monopolies, and protect their profits. Utilities claim solar makes the energy bills of non-solar customers more expensive. But in reality, utility profits, infrastructure investment, transmission lines, and paying for their bad planning and the fires they cause are what drives energy rates up. Californians are not fooled, and real equity champions know energy fairness is about “making rooftop solar panels and batteries more—not less—affordable for working families and lower-income Californians.”
With rooftop solar’s vital contribution to reaching California’s clean energy goals, the promise of battery storage for grid reliability, and new federal incentives for going solar, a diverse coalition of solar supporters are calling on the CPUC to keep solar growing and affordable for all types of consumers. More than 160,000 people submitted comments to the CPUC and Governor Newsom calling for a strong NEM-3 decision, the highest count in CPUC history.
— Solar Builder magazine