Categories: "Utilities"

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!
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05/26/21

  04:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 173 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SCE, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Ranting, Non-profit solar, SDG&E

Stop AB1139!

We have written about the perils of AB 1139 and how it would gut net energy metering for all solar owners, regardless of “grandfathering” that they were promised.  Having sailed through two Assembly committees unscathed, it is scheduled for a floor vote in the Assembly tomorrow, Thursday, May 27th. 

We need you to call your Assemblymember NOW to get them to vote No on this terrible bill.

Here is the News Flash that we just sent out to our subscribers:

 AB 1139 Heads to Floor Vote
Take Action Today

AB 1139, the Utility Profit Grab bill to kill rooftop solar and hurt your solar investment heads to an Assembly Floor vote expected TOMORROW. Call your assemblymember to stop the bill right now! Click here to take action.
 

We need to flood the assembly with thousands of phone calls. Phone calls work! So, Please call now. It takes 2 minutes.

When you click the link below, we will help you determine your Assemblymember and set up the call for you - it couldn’t be easier.

 
Call your Assemblymember Now
 

Thank you for your support!

03/14/21

  07:57:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 767 words  
Categories: SCE, Residential Solar

SCE Just Hiked Their Rates - Here's What That Means For You!

While you weren’t watching, SCE - the same SCE that is trying to kill off rooftop solar - just raised their Time-of-Use rates for residential customers. We will break down the increase and show you what it might mean for a couple of potential solar clients.

What are Time-of-Use Rates?

Time-of-Use (or TOU) rates are exactly what they sound like: a rate structure where how much you pay for energy is tied to when you use that energy.  (We wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the differences between TOU rates and Tiered rates, in gory detail!) 

The most common TOU rate for SCE’s residential customers is titled TOU-D, with the 4-9 p.m. window having the highest rates overall.  Compared to a tiered rate -  where your monthly bill is divided into steps based on the volume of energy that you use, with each volumetric step, or tier, bringing you a higher rate - a TOU rate does not increase on volume but on the time of day.  As a result, rates during peak periods can be 50% or more higher than the lowest periods.  Of course, that peak period - either 4-9 or 5-8 with SCE - corresponds to when people generally use the most energy!  Gotcha!!! (Those rate differentials are what provide the economic benefit of adding storage, and make simple strategies - like delaying the dishwasher or EV charging until out of peak rates - effective at saving money.)

How is SCE’s TOU Rate Changing?

Needless to say, SCE’s rates are very complex, with the energy charge being comprised of some eleven different components!  I will spare you those distressing details and just focus on the overall energy charge and how it has changed, as shown in this table:

SCE rate change as of 2/1/2021

SCE’s TOU-D Rate change for the 4-9 p.m. option.

On average, we see that rates here have increased between 3.67 and 3.80% over the prior rate, but there are some special gifts to solar customers buried in the rates.  When the Net Metering rules were changed a few years ago, it introduced the concept of Non-Bypassable Charges (or NBCs) - components of the rate structure that solar customers paid for every killowatt hour pulled from the grid, even if that same kWh was netted back by energy exported to the grid.  Far and away the largest NBC is the Public Purpose Programs charge, and in this rate increase it jumped from 1.323¢/kWh to 1.622¢/kWh - a whopping 22.6% increase! 

Another fun fact for SCE customers who have endured so called public-safety shutdowns, is that they are paying 0.6¢/kWh toward the “wildfire fund charge"!  That’s right, SCE’s customers are helping to pay for an insurance fund against wildfires caused by SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E - now isn’t that almost enough to get one hot enough to, well, burn!

Use Case Impacts

We decided to examine how potential clients would see their bills, and potential savings, change under the new rate structure.  As always, we made use of the wonderful tool Energy Toolbase to do our calculations. 

Average user comparison Our first example is a pretty average user in the Run on Sun service area, consuming approximately 30 kWh of energy per day, pre-solar.  Under the old TOU rate their annual bill pre-solar was $2,946, but under the new rate (including things like utility user taxes, etc.) their bill would go up by nearly 5%, an extra $144 for the year.  However, their post-solar savings also increase, by 5.42% or an extra $143 per year.  For this average user, adding solar ended up being a nearly perfect hedge against the SCE rate increase!

Heavy consumption use caseOur second user does not fare quite as well.  This is a significantly larger user, consuming more than 50 kWh/day.  Their pre-solar bill increases by 4.29%, or $228. Unfortunately, while their overall savings increases, it is not as dramatic as it is for the smaller user, reducing the differential from $228 to $92, compared to reducing it to just $1 for the average user.

Bottom line - adding solar helps hedge against rate increases, and as energy costs get higher, your annual savings will increase!

Meanwhile, SCE is Trying to Kill Rooftop Solar

It is one thing for SCE to be seeking, and getting, rate increases from the CPUC - that is their business model.  It is quite another thing for them to try and gut the value of net metering, thereby eliminating the economic value of adding solar - but that is precisely what they are trying to do!  We are fighting back, starting with a signature campaign targeted at a petition to Governor Newsom

There will be lots more to do in the coming days to fight against SCE’s attack on solar, but for now there is something simple that you can do - mash that button below and go sign the petition!

Sign the Petition!
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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!

05/19/20

  01:57:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 424 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, SCE

SCE Hikes Rates 6%

Talk about tone deaf - just as folks are stuck at home, sheltering in place, SCE jacked its rates roughly 6% across the board, because, you know, folks can so much more easily afford a rate hike while people are losing their jobs!  Here’s our (can you say outraged) take…

As of April 13, with little to no fanfare, SCE’s latest rate increase went into effect.  While different rates vary by somewhat different amounts, the overall average of 6.7% is expected to provide SCE with an additional $478 million dollars in revenue.  How nice.

The rate increase is not new; it is part of the CPUC-approved General Rate Case that was adopted in 2018 and covers rates for three years.  Nevertheless, at a time when other utilities, like PWP, are working hard to support their customers during a disastrous financial time, SCE’s willingness to press ahead with the rate increase is baffling, at best.

Using our regular proposal tool - Energy Toolbase - we decided to look at the results for three actual clients: a small usage client, a medium or really typical client, and then a very large usage client to see how the percentages played out.  Here are our results:

SCE rate increase

SCE’s Rate Increase - Click for Larger

The small user, with a total annual usage of 6,093 kWh (16.7 kWh/day) still has an annual bill on the tiered, Domestic rate plan of $1,267 and will experience a 6.24% increase or an extra $79 out of pocket.  Our medium user consumes nearly twice as much annual energy, 11,814 kWh (32.4 kWh/day), but because of the higher costs in the upper tiers of the Domestic rate plan, their bill is more than double.  After the 6.24% increase, the medium user is spending an extra $166.  Our large user - and this is not our largest residential client! - consumes 32,488 kWh (89.0 kWh/day), and has a bill to match, roughly four-times that of the medium user due to essentially living in the top tier of the rate structure.  After a 6.26% increase, they will be spending an extra $633!

We also looked at the same users switched over to a Time-of-Use rate (here, the 4-9 p.m. peak rate structure) and ran the numbers again.  One thing that leaps right out at you is that very large users will do much better on a TOU rate generally since otherwise almost all of their usage is billed in the top tier.  The percentage rate increases under the TOU rate are slightly smaller, with the small user paying an extra  $76, the medium user $160, and the large user $507.

Not exactly the sort of relief that ratepayers need at this time of unprecedented uncertainty.

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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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