Local solar company joins statewide fight against new solar energy rate plan
Proposed new solar energy rate plan would transfer majority of solar energy savings back to utility companies, says Solarponics
– Local solar installer Solarponics took a road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles last week to protest the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and their proposed new solar energy rate plan, NEM 3. Nine employees from the company participated in the rally, seven going to the CPUC office in San Francisco, and two going to Los Angeles.
The protest rally was coordinated by California Solar + Storage Association (CalSSA). Over 4,000 solar energy industry workers and their families from all across the state attended the rallies.
At stake are thousands of solar jobs throughout the state, and billions of homeowners’ solar energy savings, according to Solorponics. The proposed new solar energy rate plan transfers most of the solar energy savings back to the utility companies, which will have a tremendous impact on the California solar industry, and potentially cause tens of thousands of job losses, the company says.
“The utility providers realized that rooftop solar works, and may one day put them out of business. They want to keep full control of energy, and full control of all the profits that come from controlling energy,” says Kristian Emrich, Solarponics president. “The CPUC and the utilities are going as far as to not want to even honor the terms of the current rate agreement, NEM 2.0,” Emrich says. “This is terribly unjust to solar homeowners. It’s just plain greed.”
The San Francisco protest rally gathered at Civic Center Plaza, marching down McAllister Street, culminating on the steps of the CPUC building. The rally in Los Angeles gathered at Grand Park before marching down Hill Street to the CPUC offices.
Net Energy Metering explained
In 2008 when rooftop solar was still considered alternative energy, the utility billing structure was equitable. It was called Net Energy Metering: produce an extra kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy you feed into the grid, you get a bill credit for one kWh of utility-generated electricity.
In 2017, the utility billing structure changed to NEM 2.0 on Jan, 2017. Under NEM 2.0, solar customers pay a one-time connection fee of $145, plus a monthly fee of $10-$15 to cover low-income assistance programs and other related programs.
Today, the utility providers are pushing NEM 3.0. Under this new rate plan, solar consumers will pay all of the NEM 2.0 costs, plus a new tax of roughly $50/mo for the average solar customer. Additionally, the utilities will only pay the homeowner wholesale rate for excess solar energy sent to the grid, about 3¢, and resell it downstream for full retain, about 39¢, thus stealing all of the homeowners’ savings. NEM 3.0 would make solar unaffordable for most homeowners. Instead of saving a few hundred dollars each month, solar taxes and fees may actually be greater than the savings, according to Solarponics.
“This decision completely reverses California’s progress on clean energy and green jobs,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of CalSSA. “We’re here to fight for (our) jobs and for affordable clean energy.”
The CPUC will hold a final vote on the current proposed NEM 3.0 rate plan on Jan. 27, 2022. The hope of the rally is to get the attention of Governor Gavin Newsom who can still intervene and ask the commission to renegotiate the terms of NEM 3.0.