California solar advocates bring wheelbarrows of petitions to net metering fight
- Solar advocates delivered wheelbarrows full of petitions from over 130,000 electricity users to the California Public Utilities Comission (CPUC) asking regulators to extend the state’s net energy metering (NEM) rate, which credits solar owners for any electricity they send back onto the grid at the retail rate, PV Magazine reports.
- The solar advocates hope to influence the outcome of the CPUC's NEM proceeding to design a new policy support for distributed generation and reject proposals from California’s three major investor owned utilities that call for new monthly charges to solar owners, increased interconnection fees, NEM compensation below the retail rate, and the termination of virtual net metering.
- Many expect the state regulators and policymakers to introduce time-varying rates and changes to NEM to cope with high penetrations of renewables, over-generation during off-peak periods and high ramping needs to meet load during the afternoon’s peak demand period.
California solar adocates are trying a different tactic in their push to extend the state's retail NEM credit: wheelbarrows. The move comes as regulators, utilities and advocates are grappling with a rising penetration of renewables on the state's grid and the state's ambitious 50%-by-2030 renewables mandate.
The recent decision by Hawaii regulators to terminate NEM in favor of an option for credits of reduced value or to use solar generation onsite may indicate what CPUC will do. Hawaii is facing similar, though arguably more severe, concerns about high renewables penetration, over-generating during off-peak periods and high ramping needs with peaking demand.
In 2013, the California Assembly Bill 327 directed the PUC to develop a standard tariff or contract for eligible customer-generators with renewables to replace NEM no later than December 31, 2015. The successor tariff goes into effect by July 1, 2017 or when the 5% NEM cap is reached, whichever comes first.