California utilities push CPUC to vacate or 'modify' net metering decision
- Three major California utilities have simultaneously requested that the California Public Utilities Commission vacate or modify their January decision to preserve net metering retail rate credit, the Los Angeles Times reported.
- Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) were joined by ratepayer advocacy group Utility Reform Network as they filed their requests on Monday, the deadline to apply for a rehearing.
- The commission expressed reluctance to act without definitive information after Hawaii regulators’ decision to terminate its net metering policy slowed its solar industry, and Nevada regulators’ decision to reduce net metering drove several national installers and thousands of jobs from the state.
The decision to preserve the net metering retail rate credit in California earlier this year was largely seen as a major win for the solar industry, especially now in the wake of two high-profile decisions of states rolling back or replacing their net metering programs.
Under the January ruling, the CPUC will revisit the program in 2019.
But California utilities are not as thrilled, arguing the net metering credit opens the door to a cost-shift for those who do not own distributed solar systems.
The net metering ruling “appears to largely maintain the current program, penalizing the 95% of our customers who don’t have solar by adding an extra $300 on their utility bills by 2025,” Amber Albrect, spokesperson at San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), told Utility Dive at the time of the decision in January.
The CPUC commissioners themselves also appear to be slightly hesitant over the ruling based on comments during the intial ruling in January, but asserted that the decision pushes the state in the right direction during this time of transition.
“It is clear the commission is not comfortable with the variety of value and cost estimates for this resource,” Peterman said. The commission expects progress on that in the next two years, she added.
Things in the decision that increase the cost shift are of concern and “moving to a different model in 2019 may be necessary to address it,” she warned. “We want to get to the right number, we are troubled by the wide range of values, and we are saying in this decision that we need to get to a number by 2019.”
Rooftop solar users will pay a one-time interconnection fee and "non-bypassable" fees of $0.02-$0.03/kWh on every kWh they use from the grid, regardless of how much they offset with their generation.
Time-of-use (TOU) rates are mandatory for new rooftop solar users in the Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison territories, instead of phasing them in until 2019, when all residents are required to go on TOU rates. Solar owners in SDG&E's service territory will be allowed to remain on the utilities' tiered rate structure for five years after new TOU rates are approved in 2017.
The new solar net metering program will begin in 2017, or as soon as net metering caps are reached in each utility service territory.
The commission has 120 days to respond to the requests for a rehearing.