In a few more days, we’ll have the final decision from the California Public Utilities Commission that is destined to affect hundreds of thousands of Californians considering rooftop solar.
The proposed decision announced last month would drastically cut net energy metering credits by 75% for selling the excess energy rooftop solar produces and sharing it with neighbors. This changes the affordability of solar when it’s needed now more than ever.
As a San Diego-based solar and storage contractor, my company Baker Electric Home Energy is installing rooftop solar that is a critical component in meeting California’s clean energy goals. Unfortunately, San Diego Gas & Electric and other investor-owned utilities are putting their profit motives first.
In addition to increasing rates again by 8% beginning in January, they are pushing hard to make rooftop solar a financially unattractive alternative in order to maintain their control. It doesn’t make sense and is counterproductive to California’s goal of deriving 90% of its electricity from net-zero sources by 2035.
According to the California Solar and Storage Association, “distributed solar energy systems have added a total of 13 gigawatts of solar energy to the state, roughly the size of six nuclear power plants. In addition, consumers with solar and battery storage have added nearly 1 gigawatt of energy storage, which played a meaningful role in keeping the lights on during recent heat waves.”
The utilities are trying to sell the myth that solar is only for the wealthy. But net metering helps local businesses like ours provide rooftop solar to working- and middle-class neighborhoods. These hard-working individuals and families represent almost half of all new solar customers in the state today and are already paying the highest utility rates in the country.
If the proposed policies are adopted, the 75% net energy metering credit cuts will take effect on April 15, 2023. Those who purchase rooftop solar before that date will be grandfathered into the net metering rates set in 2016 and the credits will be unchanged for 20 years. After the deadline, new customers are out of luck and will receive substantially lower credits.
In a recent op-ed, Congressmen Mike Levin and Mike Thompson wrote that the CPUC proposal would “erase the value” of their efforts to pass the Inflation Reduction Act extending the tax credit for residential rooftop solar by 10 years and increasing the credit from 26% to 30%.
Why would we move backward just as we’re making progress? It’s time for California to step up. If the state is truly interested in including low-income residents in the shift to renewable energy, today and in the future, consider providing assistance and incentives.
Several of our Baker Electric Home Energy workers joined with others in rallies across California earlier this month calling on the CPUC and Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep solar growing and affordable. We’re counting on our voices being heard prior to the Dec. 15 vote.
We strongly encourage the CPUC and Gov. Newsom to keep solar affordable for hard-working California families.
Mike Teresso is the president of Baker Electric Home Energy in Escondido. He lives in San Diego.