Sunnova had big plans to install and maintain solar + storage microgrids for new home developments in California. The national solar and battery installer applied to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to be a micro utility. We detailed the finer points of the plan and proposal here.
Industry advocates were bullish on the potential of the plan, its legality and precedent, and thought that Sunnova would at least earn a hearing to address concerns from the CPUC and IOUs.
A preliminary rejection written by a judge back in February indicated otherwise. And now the CPUC has officially dismissed the application.
Reasons for dismissal | Among the 12 reasons noted in the Conclusions section, the standout motions to dismiss cited in the concluding decision came from Cal Advocates, the independent consumer advocate of the CPUC.
Cal Advocates’ motion to dismiss SCMC’s Application should be granted because SCMC fails to comply with the numerous statutory requirements of the California Public Utilities Code.
Cal Advocates’ motion to dismiss SCMC’s Application should be granted because SCMC’s request for exemption from numerous statutory requirements and Commission requirements is improper.
Cal Advocates’ motion to dismiss SCMC’s Application should be granted because it is unreasonable and inconsistent with Public Utilities Code Sections 451 and 454 to grant SCMC exemption from Commission oversight, as the Commission would have to abdicate its responsibility to ensure just and reasonable rates for California ratepayers.
Cal Advocates’ motion to dismiss SCMC’s Application should be granted because SCMC fails to provide the information required for a CPCN pursuant to Public Utilities Code Section 1003.
Cal Advocates’ motion should be granted because there has been no hearing and therefore, is not improper under either Rule 11.1 or 11.2.
Here is a statement from Sunnova’s Meghan Nutting, Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Government Affairs:
“The decision coming out of the CPUC today to dismiss our microgrid application is disappointing; however, we remain undeterred in our commitment to advancing California’s clean energy goals during this critical time of climate crisis. We believe that microgrids are a crucial component in achieving a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for California, and while this setback is discouraging, we will not be deterred from pursuing this vision.
We were encouraged by the amendments to the proposed decision intended for adoption on Thursday, which seemed to recognize the importance of allowing future site-specific third-party community microgrid applications and acknowledge the overwhelming coalition of supporters in favor of our application.
The urgency of the situation demands immediate action and California needs fast solutions to improve grid stability and provide affordable and reliable energy for consumers. Ratepayers cannot afford to wait for future applications or a languishing microgrid proceeding. They deserve energy choice now.
In the face of this disappointing decision, we remain resolute in our commitment to developing innovative energy services and solutions that enhance grid stability and provide affordable and reliable energy for customers in California. As utility rates continue to soar and grid instability worsens, the end user bears the brunt of the consequences, and the urgency of this reality is not lost on us. As we move forward from here, we will continue to work tirelessly on future applications to advocate for consumer choice and to push for a more competitive energy market that prioritizes the needs of the people over the interests of monopolistic utilities.”
— Solar Builder magazine