TL;DR - We need your help to preserve net metering - Sign the Petition!
Run on Sun has been installing grid-tied solar power system since 2007, and one constant in all of that time has been the hostility towards such systems evinced by the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs): SCE, PG&E and SDG&E. Nowhere is that hostility on clearer display than it has been in their efforts to erode, if not eliminate altogether, net metering. But now, with the IOUs lobbying for the creation of Net Metering 3.0, the battle for the survival of net metering is about to be joined in earnest. If your right to put solar on your home or business is to be preserved, we are going to need all of you to join the fight. Here's our take...
What is Net Metering?
Big utilities want to kill rooftop solar!
Net Energy Metering (NEM) or just net metering for short, is the basis by which a solar system provides the owner with a significant portion of their financial benefit. Solar systems on a clear, sunny day produce energy that follows a normal distribution, with the peak energy production occurring around solar noon, and rolling off in a typical "bell curve" on either side. That energy saves the system owner money twice: first, by directly offsetting the energy usage of the home or business, but secondly, by allowing the excess energy to be exported back to the grid for retail credit. That retail credit is then applied against energy imported from the grid to power loads at night or on cloudy days. At the end of the billing cycle, those two values - the amount of energy imported versus the amount of energy exported - are "netted" out, and if the amount imported is greater than what was exported, the difference is charged to the customer. Conversely, if more energy is exported than imported, the customer has a credit for that period that can be carried forward.
Of course, the energy exported to the grid for which the net metering customer gets credit doesn't disappear - the utility sells it to another customer for that full retail value. Moreover, because that energy did not have to be transported from far-off generation facilities, there is less demand to build expensive infrastructure like high-voltage transmission lines - you know, like the lines that have sparked deadly wildfires in the past few years.
So you might think that net metering would be a win-win for everyone - solar clients get a greater financial incentive to foot the bill for installing energy generation systems and the utility gets additional energy without incurring the costs of building or maintaining them. But you would be wrong. You see, IOUs don't make money selling energy. They make money building things. In fact, in a stunningly perverse incentive structure, the IOUs get a guaranteed return on investment of 10% for every dollar they spend building stuff: generation plants, transmission lines, etc. So they see the growth of solar, particularly rooftop solar, as a threat to their antiquated business model, and the best tool at their disposal is to take as big a bite out of net metering as possible.
Where are We Today and Where are the IOUs Trying to Go?
The version of net metering described above actually no longer exists with the IOUs, instead, they transitioned to NEM 2.0 a few years ago. (Municipal utilities, like PWP, still offer full net metering.) Under that scheme, a one-time interconnection charge was created, along with what are known as Nonbypassable Charges, which require their customer to pay a relatively small amount for every kilowatt hour of energy imported, even if that energy is actually offset by exported production. The real kicker was that all solar customers in IOU territory were switched to Time-of-Use rates that made the value of exported solar lower, and energy imported from 4-9 significantly more expensive.
But now, heading into NEM 3.0, the IOUs are going all in! A recent report by the consulting firm E3 was released by the CPUC and it highlights some options for changing net metering that would seriously impact the value of solar. In particular, the report proposes fixed monthly charges of between $50 and $70 for all solar customers, combined with a "grid access charge" each month of between $5-$7/kW installed! That means that under the best case scenario of their proposals, a residential customer with a 4 kW solar system installed would pay an extra $70 per month, every month, just because they have solar - that they paid for - on their home! That is an $840/year penalty for going green!
If that doesn't make you see red, nothing will!
We're Not Gonna Take It!
To say that the California solar industry is in the fight of its life is an understatement. But so are all solar customers, who could see the value of their investment greatly eroded by these misguided policy proposals. And that is where you come in. We are fighting back and we need you in the fight! The California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA - our trade association) and the Solar Rights Alliance are gearing up to organize against the threat. The first step is in signing a petition to Governor Newsom - we need him as an ally now. It is super easy to sign on and we are looking to collect 20,000 signatures before April 1. As of this writing, we are at 923 supporters, so we have a long way to go - and that starts with you! (We will have more news on ways to fight back in the coming weeks, so watch this space.)
Please click the big button below and let's get this done!