- California regulators this week will vote on changes to San Diego Gas & Electric's (SDG&E) rate design, including a shift in peak hours that has solar advocates crying foul.
- The California Solar Energy Industries Association and Vote Solar have each criticized the draft decision, which the state's Public Utilities Commission will tackle August 10.
- The commission's proposed order alters a draft decision from April, which moved the peak period from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. In the order regulators will consider this week, the peak period would run 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The solar industry is on board with shifting SDG&E's peak time, which has run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on regular weekdays since the 1980s. But a one-hour change from the draft to the potential final order has solar advocates speaking out.
Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in an opinion column for Utility Dive, said the group understand why time-of-use periods must be changed. The middle of the day, which was once the most expensive time to purchase power, is now frequently seeing low-cost renewables.
But Gallagher warned that shifting them too late in the day "will severely damage solar deployment and discourage conservation, rather than enable solar and [distributed energy resources] to support the grid." And he said the CPUC's decision would appear to run contrary to rate design methodology developed to by stakeholders in a formal proceeding.
According to the CPUC's order, the peak time was altered "in response to comments" and "for policy reasons" but both timeframes were supported by the record. The shorter peak period, "will allow for a five hour on-peak period rather than a six hour on-peak period which will be easier for customers to manage as we transition to default TOU rates."
In general, the new TOU periods time-of-use periods are established "to reflect the changing energy market," according to the order. It also institutes a spring "super-off-peak period," and affirms grandfathering provisions for eligible solar customers previously established.
A decision on this proposal is slated for August 10.