Net metering expert slams California's 'regressive' rooftop solar policy proposals

Jan 14, 2022 02:21 PM ET
  • Proposed net metering (NEM) rules in California that would certainly add a US$ 8/kW per month grid access fee for domestic solar systems have actually been described as "regressive as well as inaccessible with reality" by a NEM policy expert.
Net metering expert slams California's 'regressive' rooftop solar policy proposals
Image: SunPower

Energy economist Ahmad Faruqui, primary emeritus at consultancy The Brattle Group, has actually alerted that the proposed rules, NEM 3.0, would certainly impose "inequitable fixed fees" on California houses as well as "make roof solar panels expensive for just about all consumers" in the state.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last month proposed an overhaul of the state's NEM policy that it claims would "improve grid dependability and also speed up climate goals".

The modifications, which could be elected on by the CPUC as soon as 27 January 2022, would reduce the credit homeowners with PV systems get for selling excess electrical power back to the grid.

In remarks submitted to the CPUC in which he gave his leading 10 reasons that the commission must decline the proposals, Faruqui said NEM 3.0 would slash solar export credits by concerning 80%, while likewise adding a US$ 57 each month repaired fee for the average household system that is partly countered by a US$ 15 monthly credit for 10 years.

" I have never seen a proposed choice (PD) that is as regressive and also inaccessible with reality as this one," Faruqui stated, adding that proposals to impose fees retroactively on existing NEM consumers 15 years after they were allowed to run is "without precedent and crosses the borders of reasonableness".

Furthermore, rate frameworks and also fees put forward "are so intricate that a typical client in California will have difficulty assessing the economics of rooftop solar and also storage", Faruqui claimed.

With around 1.3 million homes with roof solar mounted, California came to be the initial United States state to call for solar on the roofs of most brand-new homes in 2020. That was followed last year by the California Energy Commission accepting rules that would see brand-new structures, including multi-family housing and also business frameworks, be equipped with solar as well as battery storage.

Describing California as "the flag holder for visualizing as well as developing the future" and also a national leader in regards to solar energy, Faruqui alerts that the state "will slump to the bottom of the pile" if the CPUC takes on the NEM 3.0 proposals.

The policy might additionally have a ripple effect on California's electrical vehicle (EV) market. Currently, the state leads the United States in regards to EV sales, with more than 40% of the nationwide market, and California Governor Gavin Newsom authorized an exec order in 2020 calling for sales of all new traveler vehicles in the state to be zero-emission by 2035.

Solar sales as well as setups are expected to be a key vehicle driver of EV charger installations, claimed Faruqui, adding: "Making it wildly extra pricey to go solar can likewise cannibalise EV sales and make vehicle-to-grid combination impossible."

Following the CPUC's announcement last month, organisations such as trade body the Solar Energy Industries Association as well as clean energy business group California Solar & Storage Association heavily criticised the proposals.

Today has actually seen Elon Musk weigh in, explaining the proposals as a "strange anti-environment move" in a tweet that shared a link to a Tesla web page giving recommendations on exactly how to encourage CPUC to turn down the modifications.

On that page, published on Monday, Tesla claims the CPUC is "acquiescing pressure from the California energies" by proposing the brand-new rules that could add in between US$ 50-- $80 monthly to the electric bill of a home solar customer.

Speaking throughout a presentation of California's new state budget on Monday, Governor Newsom claimed there is "more work to be done" on the NEM rules. Responding to a concern about the proposals, he said: "Do I assume that changes need to be made? Yes, I do."

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