California Preserves Retail Net Metering Rate, Increases Fees - Smart Energy Decisions

Distributed Energy Resources, Power Prices, Regulation, Utilities, Regulation, Solar  -  January 29, 2016

California preserves retail net metering rate, increases fees

In what many view as a compromise between solar customers, vendors and utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission voted 3 to 2 on Jan. 28 in favor of maintaining the retail net energy metering rate.

Net metering is a billing mechanism under which utilities pay solar customers for excess energy that their distributed generation systems deliver to the electric grid. Utilities have claimed solar customers need to pay more in order to help finance grid maintenance and upgrade costs, but solar industry stakeholders have fought hard against any cost increases. The debate over the appropriate rate is playing out at state utility commissions across the country. 

As part of the California decision, new solar customers would face a one-time grid connection charge. The commission estimates the fee will range from $75 to $150 per solar customer.

Additionally, solar customers will now pay a fee of around 2 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity sourced from the grid, i.e. utility companies, regardless of how much power their systems generate. This fee is expected to be about $6 more per month for the average solar user, according to the Los Angeles Times.

More from the LA Times:

We all know that California is a world leader when it comes to being green,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Assn. “But today's vote is more than that. It is about California continuing to champion innovation and a different way of doing things, in this case, building a smarter energy grid and allowing individual consumers to generate their own clean electricity. 

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