Solar advocates offer new California proposal to reduce subsidies

California Regulatory Authority on Monday suggest important changes state solar incentive program in a move vehemently opposed by industry advocates.

The new policy will reduce payments made to solar customers for the excess electricity they generate – a policy known as net metering – and also add an additional monthly fee for customer. These changes will apply to new customers as well as consumers and businesses that already have shingles on their roofs.

The California Public Utilities Commission said the proposed changes, in a decision called NEM 3.0, are intended to encourage consumers to install battery storage systems alongside solar panels, so they can can store excess electricity generated by solar panels and supply it back to the grid. when most needed.

Solar power users have traditionally been wealthier consumers, given the high upfront costs of solar installations, and the state’s utility companies have long argued that other customers are subsidizing the grid costs of these solar customers unfairly. In the 204-page document, the regulator said that the current net energy metering policy “disproportionately harms low-wage payers.”

The proposed changes would also create a $600 million fund to help low-income customers access distributed clean energy.

Southern California Edison, one of the state’s largest utility companies, said the proposed decision is a “meaningful step toward modernizing California’s rooftop solar program.”

But solar companies and advocacy groups were quick to sound the alarm. California has the highest number of residential solar customers in the US – more than 1.3 million – and the incentive program has been a key driver of that growth.

Solar executives say rising costs under the new proposal will significantly reduce growth as the policies will increase payback periods – i.e. how long it takes customers to pay back their investment initially due to lower electricity bills.

Solar systems vary considerably, but the current payback period is between four and five years, according to the research firm. E3. The CPUC says that the new proposal would lead to a 10-year payback for solar-plus-storage systems. The Solar Industries Association said it was working on its own calculation to determine the payback period under the new policy, and argued that the proposal would generate “the highest solar tax rate yet.” in the country and tarnish the state’s clean energy legacy.”

“The last thing we need is to step back from our climate goals,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer of SEIA. “The only winners today are utilities, which will generate more profit at the expense of their bidders,” she added. “California is going the wrong way now.”

The California Solar and Storage Association echoed this statement, saying that “CPUC proposes gifting investor-owned utilities to increase utility returns at the expense of energy consumers.” energy, jobs that support families, and California’s clean energy future.”

Solar executives also weighed in, with Sunrun’s vice president of public policy, Walker Wright, saying the proposal would “impose the highest discriminatory charges on storage customers energy and solar power in the United States, putting batteries and solar on rooftops is beyond the reach of countless California homes and many households are asking the state to do more to fight climate change and provide them with reliable, sustainable energy.”

The proposed decision is not final. Now, a comment period will follow, with the entire committee set to vote on the final decision no earlier than January 27. The final decision may not be the same as the one proposed today. Monday.

To complicate matters further, the president of the CPUC – one of the five commissioners – will step down at the end of the year.

Monday’s decision follows a process that has been going on for months. Several parties, including SEIA and the California Solar and Storage Association, submitted proposals for review by the committee in March. California’s three largest utility companies – PG&E, SoCal Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric – submitted a joint proposal. Other groups, including the Utilities Reform Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council, also made recommendations on what California’s solar policy should look like going forward. There are many suggestions among them.

Mark Toney, chief executive officer of The Utility Reform Network, said the proposed decision is a “step in the right direction and recognizes the importance of a sustainable solar policy that benefits all guests.” row.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Walker Wright is Sunrun, vice president for public policy and the Natural Resources Defense Council, was one of the groups that proposed California’s solar energy policy. Solar advocates offer new California proposal to reduce subsidies

Emma James

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