Private solar power generation needs to be protected against utility power grabs
By Alex K. Williams, Co-Founder, Solar partners
The installation of private solar energy systems in homes throughout California has been a major driver in the state’s green power revolution. Twenty-five years ago, approximately 10,000 homes and businesses had rooftop solar systems installed. Since then, the number has risen to 1.2 million with no end in sight. This boom in private solar energy systems has not only impacted the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere, but also the wallets of homeowners, with a potential 20-year savings of over $40,000 in the state of California for those who repent. These savings are achieved not only through reduced reliance on external power sources, but also through net metering, i.e. selling unused solar power back to the grid.
This monetary aspect has led some of the largest utility companies in the state to band together and push forward California Assembly Bill 1139 in an effort to charge rooftop solar customers a monthly fee and increase net meter credits. to change. While the solar industry’s dubbed “utility profit grab bill” has failed, the California Public Utilities Commission is still considering adjustments to net meters in the coming months.
According to a string of industry leaders, these utilities are still trying to implement some of the same adjustments that were originally on account 1139 through the CUPC. Among the proposed changes are requests for a depreciation of solar-generated energy so that solar energy costs the same as energy available on the open market, as well as the introduction of a $90 monthly flat fee for all solar customers.
While it’s reasonable for these companies to try to recover some of the lost profits from the solar boom, the effects of these adjustments will extend beyond just an increase in cash flow for the companies. If adopted, the negative impacts will spread to all stakeholders in this newly emerging ecosystem, from the homeowners themselves and potential future customers to the solar companies that serve them and maintain their systems.
The utilities claim that these changes, specifically the $90 monthly flat fee, are intended to reduce costs for existing customers who don’t have solar, while also supporting transmission system maintenance, wildfire prevention initiatives. and to finance the shift to renewable energy sources. energy. The problem is not the proposed initiatives where this money will go – which should have been accounted for by the utilities long ago – but the deterrent that these additional and unnecessary fees will create for potential customers.
While some wealthier homeowners can afford the cost of a flat monthly fee and a lower income from net metering, it is the next generation of solar energy buyers who will be most affected by these changes. According to Berkeley Lab statistics, the adoption of solar power systems has: tends towards lower-income households in recent years, mainly due to the long-term savings and increased accessibility resulting from federal and state programs. As it stands, one of the key value propositions for converting to home-based solar is the potential for long-term savings. If these changes are made, the monetary value of these savings will decrease, ultimately deterring new customers with less financial resources.
If the new adoption is reduced, it will impact the industries that have sprung up to serve these customers. In short, these changes not only deter new lower-income customers, but also limit the rate at which the solar industry can evolve, as well as the rate at which the state, and ultimately the country, can move away from non-renewable energy sources. With events like the Gulf of Mexico fire As it becomes more commonplace, the focus should be on encouraging the adoption of renewable energy generation by any means necessary, rather than deterring or punishing it with business-oriented, profit-grabbing adaptations.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that the changes requested by utilities are a ill-disguised plan to reduce residential solar adoption while limiting the growth of a competitive industry and harming residential customers. Because of the numerous financial and environmental benefits of the solar transition, the current state of the solar industry, as well as the regulations surrounding metering and additional costs, must remain untouched, if not improved, to achieve greater adoption. stimulate. To ensure this happens and to protect the rights of large utility solar customers, consider: autograph this petition by Save California Solar.
Alex K. Williams, founder of Solar Energy Partners, leads the solar industry with years of experience in entrepreneurial sectors such as security and the oil industry. Alex joined the solar industry to help grow sales teams across California. By 2021, Solar Energy Partners will expand its footprint and ownership team to a range of western states.