- Pacific Gas & Electric has hit the cap on its retail net metering program (NEM) and will now move new distributed generation customers into its NEM 2 rate, which includes a one-time fee of $145 for the utility to connect systems of less than 1 MW to the grid.
- Additionally, new solar customers will be on a time-of-use rate plan, and will pay a charge on electricity purchased from the grid to help fund low-income or energy efficiency customer programs.
- The initial phase of net metering in California limited projects eligible for net metering to 5% of a utility's peak demand; San Diego Gas & Electric reached its cap over the summer.
PG&E has more than 275,000 solar customers in Northern and Central California, and will now officially transition towards a modified net metering rate designed to keep the resource growing sustainably. The utility now has 2,409 MW of installed private rooftop solar capacity on its system, and those customers will be grandfathered into that initial NEM program for 20 years from the date their system was grid-connected.
The utility said in a statement that NEM 2 makes "modest changes" to the existing net metering structure, adding that rooftop solar customers "continue to receive subsidies that are borne by all other customers."
An average residential system in PG&E's territory is about 5 kW, and those customers will now pay a one-time connection fee of $145 to access the grid.
In January, the California Public Utilities Commission approved new net metering rules to keep retail rate remuneration for energy exported to the grid, but added the connection fee and a non-bypassable monthly charge ranging from $0.02/kWh to 0.03/kWh, in addition to time-of-use rates. Those rates are up for review in 2019.
The solar industry in California, the nation's leading state for residential PV, has not been overly concerned about the new rates and were not worried about a slowdown in installations after SDG&E hit its cap this summer.