- In response to proposals from the three big California investor-owned utilities to replace retail rate net metering, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said the utilities "know as well as we do that their proposal would kill the [rooftop solar] industry," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- “They vocally say they support solar,” Rive said. “But then this proposal clearly states, they want to kill solar. Let’s stop kidding each other – no, you’re trying to kill solar.” Rive elaborated on his comments in an op-ed published in Greentech Media.
- Rive suggested the utilities are simply unwilling to let go of their traditional business model in the face of solar competition. “If solar scales up, the way the utility stays competitive is they have to reduce their costs," he said. "To every business, that’s normal.”
The fight over rooftop solar is quickly coming to a boil in California, as it has in many other states across the country.
Under a law enacted in 2013 that delayed the fight until now, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) must develop a new net metering tariff to replace the current system by either mid-2017 or once nameplate net metered capacity hits 5%, whichever comes first. California utilities Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric filed proposals with the CPUC that would effectively lower compensation for solar customers. The proposals include monthly fixed and/or demand charges for solar customers and reduced remuneration under net metering. The individual utilities' proposals vary; you can read a good explanation of their proposals here.
Perhaps the most notable comparable example is Arizona, where utilities Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) proposed similar changes to rates for solar customers, only to be met with vehement opposition. SolarCity is now suing SRP over its $50 demand charge for solar customers.
The utilities, for their part, have long insisted new charges and net metering rates are needed to prevent the shifting of grid costs to non-solar owning customers, and will result in a more fair compensation scheme for rooftop solar resources.