CPUC Proposes Net Metering Changes that Will Stifle Rooftop Solar

New rules will change how rooftop solar owners are compensated for their clean energy

Sacramento, CA – Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued its highly-anticipated proposed decision in the net metering proceeding. Net metering is a foundational clean energy policy that allows customers with onsite solar to save on their electric bill by receiving a credit for the excess clean energy they send back to the grid. The popular policy has helped propel California to the national leadership role it holds in rooftop solar adoption, with over 1.3 million solar roofs installed statewide.

“The proposal includes a raft of complex changes which, if approved, would put rooftop solar far out of reach for millions of Californians,” said Susannah Churchill, Vote Solar’s Western Senior Regional Director. “By drastically reducing monthly solar savings and adding new solar-only fees for the majority of residential solar users, the proposal will move us backward on clean energy and block many Californians’ ability to help make our grid more resilient to climate change.”

The CPUC, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, opened a proceeding to update net metering in August 2020. Stakeholders submitted and debated a range of proposed policy changes, which the Commission considered as it developed today’s 187-page proposal.

Recent modeling from Vibrant Clean Energy suggests that in order for California to reach its clean energy commitments at the lowest cost, the state will need to further develop its local clean energy resources including rooftop solar, community solar and battery storage. Vibrant Clean Energy found that building a more decentralized, customer-focused electricity system that efficiently leverages rooftop and community solar and pairs it with batteries can save California ratepayers over $120 billion by 2050. Fair utility bill credits for rooftop solar customers will be key to realizing those savings.

“It is extremely disappointing to see a discriminatory fee of $48 per month for the average solar home in today’s CPUC proposal. I’m not aware of a solar-only fee that high anywhere else in the country. Solar-only fees unfairly discriminate against solar customers, charging them for the energy they produce instead of buying from the utility. In addition, these fees make it less affordable for people to pair batteries with their solar, and battery adoption is key for reducing emissions from our grid. This proposal is way out of step with what the majority of Californians want, which is to make rooftop solar and batteries more affordable, not less. We urge Governor Newsom to take a stand for customer choice, a resilient grid and climate action by insisting the CPUC substantially revise the proposal,” said Churchill.

Vote Solar submitted two complimentary proposals for California’s new net metering rules in the CPUC proceeding in 2021, available here. The CPUC will take public comment on the proposed decision for at least the next 30 days, with a final vote expected in early 2022.

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