More solar plus storage can save Californians over $120 billion by 2050
California policymakers are planning to revise the rules for how much future rooftop solar customers can save on their electricity bills. This is a critical moment for clean energy progress and energy justice. Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a new “avoided cost” calculation for rooftop solar and solar-paired storage, which endangers our path to resilient and affordable solar for all.
Avoided cost refers to the savings to the electric grid provided by rooftop solar. For example, rooftop solar can reduce the need for new transmission lines by providing local clean energy, and solar+storage reduces the need for power plants by serving demand at peak times. The calculation is complicated, and political. The latest numbers approved by the CPUC fail to properly account for many of the benefits of local clean energy.
We know this because we did our own calculation. Along with our partners in the Local Solar for All coalition, we used a new cutting-edge model to uncover how new clean energy investments at the local level can reduce spending on the grid.
We 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.
The CPUC is currently considering updates to the popular solar net metering program that allows rooftop solar customers to receive utility bill credits for excess clean energy they send back to the grid. The big utilities’ proposals would not come close to providing a fair credit, given what we know about the many value streams of rooftop solar, community solar and storage.
As we live through fire season once again, it is clear that climate action cannot wait. California must make local solar and storage even more affordable and accessible, particularly to vulnerable communities and low-income communities.