- The California Public Utilities Commission last week adopted a proposal that eliminated completion deadlines for rooftop solar systems on the state's new net metering system, practically extending the length of time customers can remain on older time-of-use rates (TOU).
- The decision addresses a problem where the grandfathering date for new solar systems had passed, before the new rates had been determined, PV Magazine noted. Under the new rates, the peak period for TOU would start at 4 p.m., but solar interests had pressed for 3 p.m. Previously, the peak period was set from noon to 6 p.m.
- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) last year became the first utility in the state to hit its net metering cap, meaning new applications were shifted to the new time-of-use rates and fees established in the CPUC's net metering decision last year.
California's new net metering and time-of-use rates are experiencing growing pains, but now state regulators have ensured that at least customers know what rates they are getting when installing solar PV.
"In light of the fact that construction can be affected by numerous matters outside of the customer’s control, like permitting or utility review, we are persuaded that no deadline needs to be imposed upon construction," according to an alternate decision proposed by Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen and adopted by the CPUC.
Early in 2016, the commission decided that new net metering customers would keep retail rate remuneration for energy exported to the grid after the cap is hit, but they would also pay a one-time interconnection fee and a non-bypassable monthly charge, and would be moved onto time-of-use rates. But the timing of rate decisions meant the grandfathering period for some new projects had passed before the new rates were known.
Initial interconnection agreements must still have been filed before the end of January 2017, PV Magazine notes. The decision also impacts some residential customers who previously opted into TOU rates.
Pacific Gas & Electric hit the cap on its own retail net metering program late in 2016, and began moving new distributed generation customers into its NEM 2 rate, which includes a fee for the utility to connect systems of less than 1 MW to the grid.