- Decisions on rate structure and net energy metering confronting California regulators could shape the biggest U.S. solar market and determine the industry’s future, according to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) spokesperson David Eisenhauer.
- PG&E has 115,000 residential solar customers, 6,000 non-residential customers, 1,000 megawatts of rooftop solar, 4,500 megawatts of utility-scale solar, and its stream-lined, five-day interconnection process is bringing on 2,500 rooftop solar systems per month.
- PG&E expects CPUC decisions this year on the structure of a “successor tariff” for net energy metering (NEM) and on time of use (TOU) rate tiers for residential customers. The utility is now considering filing responses with the commission.
Eisenhauer said 40% of PG&E residential solar customers and nearly all its non-residential solar customers have both TOU rates and NEM. The CPUC decisions will likely determine how much that figure grows.
An Institute for Local Self-Reliance analysis concluded that combining TOU rates with NEM can increase the return to a solar system owner by as much as 250% because solar is most typically most productive at peak demand periods when the TOU rates are highest.
Solar advocates have proposed a TOU plan that calls for TOU rates ranging from $0.114 per kilowatt-hour for off-peak winter hours to $0.466 at high demand margins. It protects non-solar-owning customers by allowing them to select a simpler two- or three-tier block rate billing schedule. It also protects all ratepayers from any fixed bill charge.
PG&E is also working through the value of solar tariff idea.