The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) new solar energy proposal removes a previously proposed monthly grid tax that could have added hundreds of dollars per year to the cost of solar installations (through Reuters).
The CPUC sought to reduce solar incentives for customers of investor-owned utility companies and in December proposed charging an $8 per kilowatt monthly fee to encourage new customers of on-grid solar. to close. As noted by my colleague Justine Calma, some industry groups opposed the plan, saying it would “end California’s solar explosion,” making it the state with more rooftop solar than anywhere else in the U.S.
The CPUC responded by removing the monthly grid fee from its proposal.
At the same time, the CPUC also plans to reduce energy payouts to the grid, called Net Energy Metering. This could reduce payouts from $0.30 per kilowatt to a paltry $0.08, according to an analysis by the clean energy business group California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), reducing the ability to recover installation costs in less than 10 years.
Reuters notes that the new proposal included an additional $900 million to support battery and solar systems, primarily for low-income customers, and that the CPUC has previously said it wants to incentivize battery storage rather than sell excess power.
Residential solar providers like Sunrun, which can install both solar panel systems and battery systems like Tesla Powerwalls, could benefit from the new proposal by working on more energy storage systems. “Customers will not be unfairly penalized for generating and storing (in batteries) local clean energy to both participate in modern ways to power their lives and contribute to the fight against climate change, which is an important step in the right direction,” Sunrun CEO Mary Powell said in a statement to Reuters.
“If adopted as is, the CPUC proposal would protect utility monopolies and increase their profits while making solar less affordable and delaying the goal of 100 percent clean energy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA, said in a statement. “We urge Governor Newsom and the CPUC to make further adjustments to allow more middle and working class consumers, schools and farms access to affordable, reliable, clean energy.”
The vote on the proposal is set for December 15, with an implementation date of April 15, 2023 if passed.