California will allow small utilities to aggregate bills for net metering
- California regulators have allowed small utilities in the state, including Liberty Utilities, PacifiCorp and Golden State Water Co., and Bear Valley Electric, to unify multiple meters under one bill for the purposes of net metering.
- The change will not raise costs for non-net metered customers, the California Public Utilities Commission determined in Resolution E-4854.
- PV Magazine notes that California lawmakers passed Senate Bill 594 about five years ago, allowing for aggregated net metering for the state's three largest investor-owned utilities. The resolution extends those capabilities to smaller providers.
The long-term impacts for California's decision are likely to extend beyond the state's borders, according to PV Magazine, as the finding that aggregated net-metered bills do not raise costs for other customers is significant.
The resolution found that net-metered (NEM) solar non-residential generators supplied approximately 59% the state's net-metering capacity, but accounted for just 9% of the total cost of the program.
The CPUC resolution notes that the NEM program overall represented a net cost to ratepayers, but through [net energy metering aggregation] "the NEM program is likely to be more frequently subscribed by customers installing larger renewable DG systems with a lower cost per kWh exported, which would result in a lower cost to non-participating customers. "
The decision does not impact the current net metering cap, which is set at 5% of peak demand.
A NEMA arrangement could also be exclusively utilized by residential customer generators, though regulators said that scenario is less likely. One possible example could include a net metering arrangement in a compound with several separately metered residences all under the ownership of a single customer.
Liberty, PacifiCorp and Bear Valley Electric will need to file revisions within 30 days to their NEM tariffs to enable meter aggregation, the CPUC determined.
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