Tag: "cpuc"

01/22/22

  01:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 392 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Ranting, Non-profit solar, Net Metering

CPUC Delays Decision - Urgent Action Needed!

TL;DR - We are having an impact, but we need your voice on the 27th!


Rally goers in downtown LANine days ago, thousands of solar supporters rallied against the CPUC’s Proposed Decision that would gut the value of rooftop solar, driving payback periods from 5-7 years to 20 years or more! As of that date, the CPUC was scheduled to vote on the Proposed Decision at its next scheduled meeting - January 27th.  A veteran of many a march in my time, I know that sometimes it can seem futile - does anybody care?  Is anyone who matters really listening?

Turns out the CPUC was listening: earlier this week we learned that, quietly, the vote on the Proposed Decision was taken off the agenda for the meeting on the 27th!  So, squeak, squeak, we are having an impact - and by we I mean everyone of the 120,000 people who have signed our petition, or called the Governor’s office, or yes, marched in the streets.  You have taken action and you have been heard!  So thank you for taking the time to help save rooftop solar.

But there’s more to do (of course)…

We need as many people as possible to sign up to speak to the CPUC board during the public comment period on Thursday, January 27th at 10 a.m.  Certainly every solar company in the state should have someone speak, but we also need the public to add their voices.  We know that the utilities like SCE will be having their workers call in, repeating the same scripts over and over.  What we need to counter that are regular folks - people who have solar now and are angry that the CPUC would change the rules midstream, or people who would like to add solar but won’t be able to afford it if the payback period goes to 20 years or longer, or simply people who believe that SCE shouldn’t be able to tax people for the privilege of putting solar on their home or business.

In other words, we need YOU.

CALSSA is making it easy - providing a form where you can sign up to speak.  How?  Just SMASH the Sign Me Up! button below and we will take care of the rest.  Speakers are limited to one minute, so all you really need to do is say something short and sweet, from the heart.

Thank you for your support!

SIGN ME UP!
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01/14/22

  03:05:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 270 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Non-profit solar, Net Metering

Run on Sun Rallies for Solar Jobs - along with a few thousand of our friends!

On Thursday, January 13, 2022, the Run on Sun crew - and a few thousand of our friends and colleagues - got together at simultaneous rallies in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Our message was simple: the Proposed Decision from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) would imperil thousands of solar jobs, drive up the cost for solar for everyone (truly meaning that only the most affluent could afford it), and frustrate California’s efforts to address Climate Change.  It is time for Governor Newsom to do more than suggest that the proposal, “needs some work."  In fact, the Proposed Decision needs to be scrapped in favor of a policy that will make solar more affordable for everyone.

Nearly two thousand people gathered in LA’s Grand Park to listen to CALSSA’s Policy Director,  Brad Heavner, and other speakers exhort the crowd to stand strong in solidarity against the CPUC’s disastrous proposal.  We then marched from the park the four blocks to the CPUC’s offices in DTLA.  Along the way we were greeted by cars honking in support of solar - including the driver of a Metro bus!

Here are some images from the rally:

Amanda does her thing!

Project Coordinator Amanda Watson puts the finishing touches on our signs!

Crowd listens

Crowd at Grand Park listens to Brad and the other speakers.

Marching to the CPUC!

Amanda’s colorful sign tells the story!

Making our voices heard

Making our voices heard outside the CPUC offices.

Colleagues

Amanda and Adrian flank Scanifly’s Chance Venable at the march’s end.

By any measure, the rallies were a success - but there’s still one metric to be determined: the final outcome! Of course, we will write about that as soon as we know more. Watch this space.

10/22/21

  03:00:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 386 words  
Categories: SCE, Residential Solar, Net Metering

Battle to Save Rooftop Solar - Act Now!

Readers of this blog are well aware of the fight being waged before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as we first wrote about this back in February!  Now we are entering the final stretch in this fight, and quite frankly, we are losing. 

Why, you ask?  How can we be losing the battle to preserve your right to put solar on your home or business, when everybody loves that idea?  The answer is easy: the opposing forces - we are talking about you here, Southern California Edison - have nearly infinitely more money than we do, and they are spending it like crazy.  So how do we possibly fight back?

With you.  And tens of thousands of other folks just like you.

The California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) - our trade association - is fighting hard to preserve the value of the investment made by past solar clients, and those in the future.  They have created an audacious goal: generate 200,000 public comments by November 20!  Here’s how CALSSA framed the fight:

“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects” – 1891, Louis Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice

In 2015, the pro-solar coalition submitted 130,000 public comments to the CPUC on the NEM-2 decision. Today, as we near the homestretch in the NEM-3 proceeding, the headwinds are greater and the opposition better organized. Therefore, we are launching a campaign today to reach our goal of generating two hundred thousand public comments by November 20. Reaching this goal would break the record for the greatest number of public comments received by a state agency in history – previously set by solar advocates in 2015. Simply put, two hundred thousand is a number that the CPUC and the governor simply can’t ignore. It is the sunshine that is needed to fight against the corrupting influence of SCE and the other utilities

We cannot afford anyone sitting on the sidelines.  If you own a solar power system, the value of your investment is at stake.  If you realize that rooftop solar is a key piece in how we reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change, that goal is under attack!

It’s easy to join the fight: Mash that button below and tell the CPUC to side with solar consumers and not with the utilities!

Sign the Petition!

02/17/21

  08:47:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 927 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, SCE, Residential Solar, Ranting, SDG&E, Net Metering

The Battle to Preserve Net Metering is Underway - Time to Fight!

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?

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!

Sign the Petition!

07/17/19

  01:01:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 926 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Ranting, Shortcut Solar

California Solar Consumer Protection Guide Hits the Streets

CPUC Solar Consumer Protection Guide

For the longest time we have been talking about the need for the solar industry to do a better job of policing itself, because the manner in which too many solar companies were doing business was simply unsustainable.  We argued that if we didn’t do a better job, others would step in and do it for us. 

Well guess what, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has just published a 23-page tome titled, California Solar Consumer Protection Guide.  Now that is quite a mouthful, but come September 30th, every contract in California that is entered into for solar with one of the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) – that is, SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E – requires that the first four pages be initialed, the last page signed, and the whole thing uploaded to the IOU’s web portal!  Moreover, homeowners need to be given adequate time (and patience?) to read the entire document and only wet signatures (i.e., no E-sign) are allowed.  Here’s our take…

Who Will this Deter?

First and foremost, the more information consumers have, the less likely they will be taken in by shady contractors.  Ultimately, that is good for both consumers and the legitimate players in the solar industry.  Frankly it’s too bad that the trade associations didn’t create something like this and require their members to disseminate it to potential clients – I’m confident that they would have produced a better guide.

For Run on Sun, this really doesn’t change anything that we will be doing since we have always covered this type of information with our clients.  (You know, we are “tellers, not sellers.")    But it will be really interesting to see how the bad players respond.  My guess is that they will simple forge signatures – if you are willing to deceive your customer, you will have no qualms about deceiving a bunch of regulators.

Meanwhile, for the Non-Shady Solar Installers…

As to the rest of us, while this will mostly be business as usual, there are some disturbing things.

For example, on page 8, where the CPUC is trying to explain the installation process, they have this bullet point under the heading, After You Sign a Contract: “Installer… performs a home site visit to confirm assumptions and check roof, ground, and electric conditions."  Hold the phone.  If the installer doesn’t know the condition of your roof and electrical service when you sign the contract, that contract is invalid! 

Key terms that are left to a later time means that there was no agreement between the parties, no “meeting of the minds,” and hence the contract is not binding.  So why is the CPUC publishing such nonsense?  Because many of the larger solar companies operate this way and they were no doubt insisting that this language be included. 

But no - before you sign a contract, those assumptions have to be nailed down if you are to avoid costly change orders down the road.  (Oh, and why aren’t change orders discussed here?  Sigh.)

Under Step 3: Find a Qualified Solar Provider they suggest going to the Contractors State License Board and the California DGStats website.  But that’s a lousy way to identify a qualified provider.  For one thing, being listed with the CSLB just means you have a license - but lots of companies play all kinds of tricks to have a license number and you wouldn’t want them anywhere near your home.  And the DGStats site is interesting, but it only shows projects installed in the IOUs territory - locally that means SCE.  But installs done in Pasadena or Los Angeles, Burbank, Glendale, Azusa, or Anaheim (for example) will not show up there at all, since the municipal utilities do not report their projects to that site.

Only under the area of narrowing down your list to they suggest checking the website of certified PV installation professionals provided by the North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP) – which is the only resource listed that actually does anything to qualify installers!  (Check out the NABCEP list here.)  Oddly, the directory of companies belonging to the California Solar and Storage association (calssa.org) was not referenced as a resource at all!

 Under Step 5: Learn About Electricity Bill Savings they have this interesting statement: “Before you sign a contract, ask yourself: if the savings end up being lower than the estimated monthly or yearly savings, does getting rooftop solar still make sense to me?"  Wow - how much did the IOUs have to pay to get that language inserted?  How about adding this in rebuttal: “Before you sign a contract, ask yourself: How much would it mean to me to be able to really stick it to my utility?"  Because we have certainly had many a client tell us that all they really want to do is make SCE feel the pain!

Wouldn’t more useful questions to ask before you sign the contract be: How did your installer calculate your potential savings?  What assumptions did they make, for example,about the rate of growth for future electric bills, or the degradation of the output of your PV system?  What software did they use and how does it work?  Or did they just pull a number out of the ether?

Under Step 8: Sign this Guide we get to explain to our new client why they have to initial 4 pages, check three boxes, and then sign the Guide - in addition to the installer’s contract and the interconnection agreement.  (To say nothing of financing documents if they are foolish enough to buy into a Lease/PPA).  Yet more hoops to jump through before Going Solar.

But you know what, folks?  We have only ourselves to blame.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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